Mateo hunts elusive premiership at Manly
Former Warrior and Eel Feleti Mateo says while he's happy just to be pushing for a spot at first grade, an elusive premiership was a huge carrot in his move to Manly.
The 30-year-old told NRL.com the decision to leave the Warriors with two years to run on his contract was a straightforward one. However his move to the northern beaches club wasn't originally aimed at plugging the gaps left by the likes of Anthony Watmough and Glenn Stewart.
"The direction the club was going in over there [in New Zealand] wasn't best suited for me so I thought the best thing would be to come here and start a new journey," Mateo said.
"I think it was more luck that I happened to come along, still having two years on my contract at New Zealand. I wasn't aware [Watmough was] leaving so I was just lucky I think."
He added he would be looking to bring some much needed experience to a pack that has lost around 800 games of NRL experience over the past two years.
"I've already had a chat to a few of the young guys, trying to help them as best as I can. We have lost a lot of experience but hopefully I can pick up some of the slack alongside Willie Mason who provides a lot of experience," he said.
The ball-playing back-rower said he hadn't been specifically tasked with replacing the attacking flair of departed ball-playing back-rower Glenn Stewart.
"I think so [I'll be expected to do some ball playing] – it comes down to what's best suited for the team and who we're playing against so there are a few options there. It's just nice to have that backing from those guys that I'm wanted here," he said.
But the thought of finally nailing a premiership certainly factored into Mateo's move back to Australia, after losing grand finals in 2009 with Parramatta and 2011 with the Warriors.
"Yeah definitely – I've lost two now so I'm hoping for third time lucky! The success of the club was definitely [a factor], when I heard they wanted me, I definitely wanted to come. I'm really happy that I'm here now," he said.
He added it has been incredibly easy to slot into life at Manly.
"I'd heard about the culture and what it's like but you don't get a real good feel until you get in here. It's one that allows each individual to play their best footy. I'm really looking forward to get out on the field," he said.
"I've only been here a short time but you can tell everyone's pretty tight and guys look after each other."
Despite some high-profile departures, the depth at the club meant Mateo couldn't take a Round 1 spot for granted, he said.
"For now [my goal] is just getting in the 17 – they've been so successful and I know those two guys [Watmough and Stewart] have left but there are still some really good players here so to be in the 17 is my first goal and we'll see where we go from there.
"There are a few young guys who are snapping at the heels too so I'm not taking anything for granted from the coaching staff."