Matthew Wright scored a try and ran for 86 metres in his debut for the Cowboys on Monday night. Copyright: Col Whelan/NRL Photos Credit: NRL Photos Copyright: NRL Photos
Matthew Wright uses the world 'grateful' five times in the space of our four-minute chat.
He's grateful that in his first game for the Cowboys on Monday night he was able to score a try and contribute strongly to a 28-2 win. He's grateful that a promising NRL career that began at Cronulla back in 2009 didn't end after just 62 top-grade appearances.
Wright is grateful that he has a dressing shed to change into but most of all, he is grateful to have teammates again so that he no longer has to train alone.
Wright's rugby league lifeline at the Cowboys came courtesy of the sacking in January of talented youngster Wayne Ulugia whose spectacular on-field accomplishments were undone by repeated off-field indiscretions.
Although he had no playing contract anywhere after his previous deal at Cronulla had run its course at the end of 2013, Wright continued to train by himself with the slim hope that another NRL club would come calling for a player who can play anywhere in the outside backs.
Having earned a late call-up last week, Wright will mark up on Wests Tigers veteran Pat Richards on Saturday night at Campbelltown hoping to take further advantage of the opportunity he has been given.
"I'd just been training at home, doing my own thing, just waiting around, and finally got the chance to come up here," Wright said of his Cowboys call-up. "I was just doing the stuff we do, running up and back, just running and trying to stay fit.
"I just thought I'd knuckle down and I knew I was at the back of the line but hopefully I'd get that opportunity. It came around pretty quickly and I'm grateful for it, I grabbed it with two hands.
"'Greeny' (North Queensland coach Paul Green) gave me a chance and I' grateful for it and to get the opportunity tonight and make the most of it, I was pretty happy," he said of his debut at the club.
Wright's maiden Cowboys appearance came at the expense of another talented youngster in Kyle Feldt, who was dropped by Green to address a worrying error rate. Feldt has now taken Wright's place in the Northern Pride team for Round 7 of the Intrust Super Cup this weekend but he won't be exposed to the unique experience that Wright was afforded.
In his fourth game for the Pride Wright travelled to Papua New Guinea with the rest of the team to take on the Hunters on their home turf, an experience that made him once again appreciate the luxuries of playing for an NRL team.
"It was a massive experience just to play over there. It was real hot and the crowd were really up for it, it was pretty hectic," Wright recalled.
"There's no dressing sheds, we pretty much just had to get changed at the hotel and pretty much had to run on the field as soon as we got off the bus, so it was a lot different. It was a good experience in the end."
Monday night's convincing win over the Knights was an auspicious return for Wright as his last NRL appearance for the Sharks had been a 24-4 loss at the hands of the Cowboys in Townsville in Round 16 last year. Although the welcome was hardly warm on that occasion, the 23-year-old is eager to extend his North Queensland adventure beyond 2014.
"I stay with Cameron King. He was happy to let me stay with him and I'm grateful for it," Wright said.
"He loves his coffee; I don't mind having a few coffees with the boys. I get along with everyone. Everyone gets along with each other.
"Just the one year [contract] and hopefully if I play some good footy I can stay at the club but right now I'm just going to concentrate on hopefully cementing my spot in the team every week and hopefully get a contract up here again."