Another second-gen Rooster makes memorable debut
Ryan Matterson says he had tears in his eyes when his coach Trent Robinson told him to prepare to make his NRL debut on Anzac Day and it seems somewhat fitting he did so as the halves partner of Jackson Hastings.
While it is well known Jackson's father Kevin was a red, white and blue club legend, and Ryan's uncle Terry debuted for the Roosters before a decorated career with the Broncos, what is less well known is that Ryan's dad Paul is Rooster number 806.
When Paul debuted in 1986 – playing two games off the bench under coach Arthur Beetson – Kevin Hastings was the Roosters' hooker and captain.
And while Ryan wasn't buying into any last-name talk after his high-octane debut in a close 20-18 loss to the Dragons, he had plenty of praise for the help his parents have given him along the way.
"The last thing I worry about is all that stuff. I just concentrate on what my mum and dad have to say," Matterson said after scoring a try and setting up another in a second-half comeback on Monday.
Prompted about his famous uncle, Ryan quickly added: "Dad played too… 806, that's his number. I don't even know my number!
"My dad and my mum are the two biggest people I listen to. You probably think, 'why do you listen to your mum because girls don't really know footy' but my mum's a footy head, she actually knows more than guys. She tells me exactly what I'm doing wrong."
Reflecting on the kind of debut you don't forget about in a hurry, Matterson wasn't pleased with a first-half intercept pass he threw to concede a try but was still buzzing from the electric Anzac Day atmosphere.
"I threw an intercept so I wasn't too happy about that, and we lost, but just being a part of the atmosphere and Anzac Day itself was unbelievable," he said.
"Just walking out, just looking at the crowd was unbelievable. I think the actual day itself was awesome.
"We went into camp and we looked at the war memorial. Just seeing what the diggers did for us was unbelievable and just being out there and being able to play on Anzac Day was such an honour – I've never done that before – and I just really want to thank 'Robbo' for the opportunity."
Having joined the club over the off-season in search of opportunity after his last club Parramatta signed Kiwi Test star Kieran Foran, Matterson suffered a delayed start to the year due to a broken ankle just after Christmas, making Thursday's news that he would finally make his debut all the more special.
"It was Thursday, halfway through the session and I just grabbed 'Robbo' and hugged him and said honestly thank you, I had tears in my eyes," he said.
"I broke my ankle just after Christmas but without my mum and dad and my brother and everyone around me for the moral support I wouldn't be where I am today."
Of his move across from the Eels, Matterson said it was purely a case of opportunity and the chance to grow as a player.
"I just couldn't see an opportunity at Parramatta since they signed Foran so I got my manager to speak to Robbo and he basically told me 'I want to work hard with you' and I like a challenge so why not?
"It's a growing club, the Roosters, we lost a lot of senior players but we don't really see that as anything new… we've got to grow and evolve and we'll be better soon."
Matterson said senior half Mitchell Pearce had been a huge help to himself and the other young halves at the club but wasn't fazed about the possibility of losing his spot again this week when Pearce becomes available.
"Mitch has been awesome, Pearcey. With the younger boys he's been geeing us up and just saying 'back yourselves' so he's a good leader," he said.
"That's up to Robbo [if I stay in first grade], I'll just take it game by game.
"Just playing first grade in itself has been a dream for me and doing it as a career would be unbelievable but it's up to Robbo and I respect his decision."