Mata'utia bulks up as a full-time forward
A noticeably bigger Sione Mata'utia says he will spend the Newcastle Knights' off-season tinkering with his weight ahead of his highly-anticipated full-time switch to the back row.
However Mata'utia – who will take part in the Knights' pre-season alongside all three of his older brothers for the first time – isn't ruling out a return to the backline in future.
The 20-year-old Australian international believes his ideal playing weight for the 2017 NRL Telstra Premiership season is 100 kilograms.
"We had always planned to put on a little bit more weight due to the position change and with all the big boys set to run at me now," Mata'utia said.
"It helps knowing that's the position for me now in terms of getting my head around it. I can start learning new skills now which is really exciting.
"I had a lot of fun there in the season that's just gone. I had a few dark spots there which kept me honest.
"If I can run at 100 kilograms that would be sweet. Any more than that and it could become a bit harder. It's a bit of trial and error at the moment.
"I'm at about 98 at the moment. I did a bit of running through the week and it seemed okay. I'll just have to manage it throughout the pre-season."
Mata'utia is most looking forward to a larger workload in the middle of the paddock.
"The workload is the main difference. At centre, you can sit out on the wing and have a cup of tea waiting for the ball to come to you," he said.
"But in the back row you're always doing something and the lungs are always getting tested."
The arrivals of veterans Jamie Buhrer and Rory Kostjasyn could prove crucial for Mata'utia's switch to the forwards.
While the Knights' pre-season is only a week old, the new signings have made a quick impression on the club's young cohort.
Former Sea Eagles prop Josh Starling and Hull KR winger Ken Sio are expected to boost the Knights' ranks after signing with the club this week.
"(Buhrer's) definitely a good signing for the club. He has a lot of experience in finals and grand finals which we could certainly use here," Mata'utia said.
"Along with Kostjasyn, we definitely need players like them here at the club. Jamie's definitely a versatile player and since he's been at the club he's been really helpful for me."