Two of the NRL’s most reliable centres go head-to-head in an absorbing battle down Manly’s left edge when Steve Matai and Melbourne's Will Chambers line up opposite each other at AAMI Park on Saturday night.
Matai heads into Saturday night’s round nine clash second on the NRL’s try scoring leaderboard with nine, one behind Parramatta’s Semi Radradra.
This season has been as much a reminder about his potency in attack as his traditional ferocious spot defence.
Matai’s start to the season has been nothing short of brilliant. His combination with fullback Brett Stewart has been a winning one this season.
His aggressive up and in defence is the key to Manly’s formidable left edge, held strongly by the centre.
Will Chambers, a player who likes to involve himself with his effective dummy half running, also knows how to find the line.
Matai will have to be at his defensive best on Saturday against the threatening Melbourne centre, who has scored five tries in just six appearances this season.
Chambers’ chief asset is his speed. We’ve seen frequently how he is able to take off and get around his opposite centre, drawing the winger’s attention as he often supplies the final pass to his winger Sisa Waqa.
There aren’t many in the league like Chambers who can make wavering defenders look silly.
Chambers has made four line breaks and two line break assists this season, while Matai has made an impressive 10 line breaks, six line break assists and four try assists, in comparison to Chambers, who hasn’t laid off a try all season.
Having built a reputation on hard-hitting defence, Matai has again been rock-solid this season. The star centre has missed just six tackles in eight appearances this year – an effective tackling percentage of 90.3 per cent.
Chambers has an effective tackling percentage of 84.8 per cent this season. These figures indicate that both centres are going to have to work extremely hard to get past their opposite number at AAMI Park.