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Sione welcomes SKD addition

Newcastle co-captain Sione Mata'utia has welcomed the addition of former Kiwi international Shaun Kenny-Dowall to the Knights side for Friday night's clash with the Sydney Roosters.

A hamstring injury has delayed the 29-year-old's first outing in his new colours after joining the club ahead of the June 30 mid-season deadline, however he has been named in Nathan Brown's 21-man squad that will travel to Sydney on Friday. 

The NRL draw could not have scripted the return of Kenny-Dowall any better with a showdown against his former side and the club that he represented on 224 occasions at his old stomping ground Allianz Stadium.

"He's definitely going to boost the team up with his skills and experience," Mata'utia told 

"He talks real well for a guy of his status and knows what it takes to get a win and against his old club will be keen to do well.

"He's said the right things at the right time already and coming from the Roosters where he's won grand finals and played in Test matches – he know what it takes.

"It's the same as Jamie Buhrer and Rory Kostjaysn and what they've brought to the club. They both know what to say when it's needed and Shaun is no different."

Newcastle surrendered another half-time lead on Saturday night and Mata'utia said the onus was on the players – not coach Nathan Brown – to keep the momentum after the break.

"There were a lot of positives and we probably weren't expected to put on early points against a team like that," he said.

"[Brown] keeps it short, sharp and real clear in the sheds at half-time.

"Everyone knows what their role is as soon as we walk into the sheds but it's up to us to execute it in the second half and we just haven't been.

"It's only on us if we don't follow the plan."

The Knights will travel to Sydney on the back of seven straight losses and the 21-year-old admitted there had been some whirlwind emotions for the team in the past month.

His brother Chanel has pushed his way back into the first-grade set-up after injury setbacks had cruelled him the past two seasons, while the side has suffered some heartbreaking results of late.

Mata'utia's season was at one point in doubt after he suffered a suspected hairline fracture to a finger against the Bulldogs a fortnight ago. Despite being later cleared, he underwent minor surgery and will play on with a bandage around his hand. 

Off the paddock the former Australian international announced he is expecting his first child to partner Hannah early next year. 

"The last three games [before last week's Broncos game] have been the toughest I've dealt with for a while," he said.

"Definitely the Dragons and Tigers games were tough to swallow and the Bulldogs game after that… it's hit a lot of our boys more than ever.

"But then looking at positives it's good to see Chanel playing some good footy and that always makes me emotional on the field.

"He's someone who really came onto the scene when we first played NRL together but has had a rough trot ever since.

"I set him up for that try too so he owes me one. I got one but Hokko (Trent Hodkinson) set that up so it doesn't count."

Meanwhile, the Knights announced the signing of Broncos centre Tautau Moga on Tuesday, and after towelling up the Novocastrians with a try and two line breaks in a 174-metre effort on the weekend he is set to be a welcome addition to the Hunter next season. 

"He really came to play," Mata'utia said of Moga.

"He's a big and powerful centre with a bright future ahead of him."


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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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