Australia’s second row plays better than ever in the champions’ great start to the new season after learning new tricks to lead the Man of Steel run
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MAN of Steel striker Simone Mata’utia has even shocked himself with how well he has played this season.
Aussie’s second-place finish will hopefully help the St Helens champions to five wins from five games against Warrington Wolves tonight.
Mata’utia, 25, has torn the nets of teams with fierce tackles, scoring feats and stellar displays in his second season with the club since moving from NRL.
He said: “It was fun. I really surprised myself.
“I just hope I can keep up.
“I’m doing pretty well at the moment and I’ll do my best to do that. It’s good to see some results of our pre-season work.
Allan McKenzie / SWpix.com)
“But we knew Warrington was going to be tougher than our last two, so we had to bring in game A.
Mata’utia scored two goals in last week’s impressive win at Hull KR but the biggest celebration for his excellent pass cost England winger Tommy Makinson a corner.
It’s not the kind of involvement you’d expect from the former Newcastle Knight’s second row although, of course, he started his career at centre-back/wing-back.
“It was one of those plays that we practiced throughout the week,” explained the former Kangaroos player.
“We didn’t really do it too well last week or the week before so we kept it in the pocket for a bit.
Allan McKenzie / SWpix.com)
“But then Jonny Lomax or Jack Welsby called it and, knowing how KR defended, they left a man for you to close your eyes, shoot and hope!
“Fortunately, Tommy has captured that very well.
“I don’t usually set them up. It’s something I’ve tried adding to my game and it feels pretty good. ”
Mata’utia – who topped the Man of Steel standings after four rounds – helped the Saints win the Finals last October.
With their brilliant start to 2022, even though they average 32 points per game, conceding just six, it would come as no surprise if they win four titles in a row.
Warrington, of course, will be hoping the game starts tonight and will have a familiar face in their ranks.
His brother Peter joined them from the Castleford Tigers this term and is set to take center stage as Wolves look to bounce back from a disappointing home loss to the Catalans Dragons last week.
Paul Currie / REX / Shutterstock)
“Obviously I know his game well,” said Mata’utia.
“He will add a bit of punching and aggression while he also plays off the cuffs.
“He is difficult to defend and he will definitely add something to their team this year.
“He is difficult to handle. And they’ve got five good defenders. “
Given the sustained quality of their performances going back into 2022, Saints coach Kristian Woolf was asked this week how he thinks his team will compete in the NRL when there is a chance.
He answered how he feels they would be a play-off finalist and that is hard to argue with.
Photo: Steve Flynn)
But Mata’utia says there’s still room for improvement.
“Our second half started not at our best,” he said.
“We need to work on that. We’re a team that prides ourselves on our quick start and we got some sleep.
“Defense is something we’ve always prided ourselves on, that’s how we put our mark.
“We like to play hard and work hard for each other and adapt to different scenarios but also try some new things like kick early.
“We are looking forward to Friday.”
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/st-helens-star-sione-matautia-26440426 St Helens star Sione Mata'utia 'surprised' by her own form