I'm a back-rower now: Matterson
Roosters utility Ryan Matterson reckons his days in the halves are behind him and while he's happy to sub in at centre when needed as he has been recently, believes his future lies purely in the back row.
Matterson was promoted from the bench to a starting role in Round 12 and has only spent a few minutes of game time off the field for the Tricolours since – and hasn't missed a second since Round 16.
That extra workload caught up with him after the qualifying final against the Broncos (Matterson joked he didn't get off the couch for three days) but added he was now refreshed and enjoying his first ever NRL finals series.
"Ideally, I told 'Robbo' (coach Trent Robinson) that I see myself as a back-rower now," Matterson told NRL.com.
"Especially the pre-season I did in the back row because Boyd [Cordner] was on the Australian tour. I'm loving it in the back row. Now I just do a job wherever Robbo wants me."
Matterson has this week been named to move from the centres to the bench, which would be his first bench start since Round 13. Assuming winger Daniel Tupou is cleared to return from a groin strain, that is where Matterson expects to feature this week.
"If Tupou's right to play I'll probably find myself somewhere on the bench. If not I'll play at centre," Matterson said.
Robinson expected Tupou to play but if he is a late withdrawal or goes off during the game Matterson will return to the three-quarter line and rekindle his budding partnership with fellow left-edge weapon Latrell Mitchell.
A feature of the pair's play of late has been a habit of switching between wing and centre to make the best use of attacking chances.
"Most of that is instinct but if you have a stoppage in play for a scrum or kick-off or taps, I'll find myself on the wing and Latrell will go into the centres," Matterson said.
"At the club, we've learned to play multiple positions. Some centres or wingers or back-rowers can only play left or right but we do a lot of skill-based games where people swap and change, props playing in the centres. Everyone's pretty comfortable playing every position really."
The week off – earned by downing the Broncos a fortnight ago – was timely not just for Tupou to rest his groin but also for Matterson to get a rare break in his first full season as an NRL forward.
"I've been starting, playing 80 minutes since Round 12… It's new to me playing 80 minutes of first grade week in week out," Matterson said.
"That week off did me so good, I hardly left the couch, put the feet up.
"While I'm playing [fatigue isn't an issue] but if you're playing on a Saturday, the Sunday-Monday is like you've been hit by a truck. The boys are that big, it's hard.
"Coming from the halves you really appreciate what the back-rowers do for you. I know as a half what you expect from a back-rower so I've found that transition pretty cool. I'm enjoying it."