Sione not expecting rep jumper
He may have sensationally played his way into the Kangaroos side at the end of last year, but a humble Sione Mata'utia has admitted he isn't expecting a representative recall for Australia nor a maiden Country Origin jumper following Newcastle's 26-24 loss to the Cowboys.
While there are likely to be a few changes to the Kangaroos' injury-affected Four Nations line-up when Australian selectors name their team on Sunday to face New Zealand next week, Mata'utia said he wasn't concerned about his Test prospects.
While a Country Origin jumper is perhaps a more likely outcome for the 18-year-old, that would most probably have to come at the expense of his Newcastle teammates, incumbent New South Wales winger James McManus and Akuila Uate.
"The reason I played for Australia I think was because of injuries and maybe a little bit through my good performances at the back-end of last year. This year is a new year, new season and I have to fix my performances up first," Mata'utia told NRL.com.
"All I have to worry about is what I'm doing here at the Knights before I can worry about [rep games]. I'm sure if I'm playing good here then I'll reap the rewards later on.
"I have a few little niggles so I'll sort out that next week instead and we'll see what happens. If I do get the call up then I'll be really proud and honoured but if not I still have a job to do back here."
While his representative chances have been cruelled by his current role at the Knights – where has been used as a fullback off the bench when he's not featuring in the NSW Cup – Mata'utia said he was loving his time in the NRL.
The South Newcastle junior added he wasn't worried about not knowing where he'd be playing in on a week-to-week basis.
"Every week I get to wear a Knights jersey whether it's in 20s, NSW Cup or first grade which I'm really proud of so it doesn't bring any hindrance to my attitude or preparation," Mata'utia said.
"It just means I'm going to wear a Knights jumper one way or the other which is really important to me.
"I loving my role at the moment, it's sort of a Mr Fix-It role you know? Tyler Randell and I are just slotting in wherever we can and I guess that's our job to do our best wherever we get put and wear our heart on our sleeves and do our best for the team, which is more important than any one of us individuals."
Knights skipper and fellow fullback Kurt Gidley was beside himself following the Cowboys loss, after racking up a personal tally of four errors and five missed tackles in the Knights' fourth-straight loss, but Mata'utia backed his captain.
"[Gidley's] effort is 100 per cent. We play with a motto of 'you want to be the player who you'd want to play with' and that definitely applies with him," Mata'utia said.
"I know every single person in this team supports him and wants to play with him. Everyone has their mistakes and ups and downs but I guess what you get with Gids is he is going to turn up for the team and try his hardest which we can't fault him for.
"We don't really need to regroup either. We just need to stay tight obviously throughout this week. It'll refresh us but we'll still stick to doing similar training."