The future of star Manly Warringah Sea Eagles centre Steve Matai has been finalised today with the 203 game veteran putting pen to paper on a two year contract extension with the Club.
The new deal is just reward for the 30-year-old who has just come off one of his finest seasons in the maroon and white. Matai crossed the line on 13 occasions while also adding nine assists and 16 line–breaks in his 25 appearances.
The former New Zealand international was delighted to have committed to the Club until the end of the 2017 season.
“Signing a new deal is always a great feeling, but signing on with the same Club after all these years is something pretty special,” Matai said.
“There’s been a lot of speculation of late, so to have my future sorted before the start of the season is great. It means my focus can simply go back to ensuring I’m fit and ready for action as soon as possible.”
“The main priority was always my family – my partner Kate and my two little kids. Everything I do is for them. They start school soon, so not having to relocate definitely played a part in the decision too. My goal is always to make them happy. If they’re happy, then I’m happy and I’ve done my job.”
“We’ve got a developed and proud winning culture here at the Club which has been established over many years, and I know we’ve got the players, talent and desire to be up there once again,” Matai said.
Since making his debut back in 2005 against the Melbourne Storm, Matai’s uncompromising style of defence and attack has led him to become one of the most feared players in the game.
Sea Eagles CEO Joe Kelly acknowledged that while there may have been other NRL teams showing interest in Matai, seeing him at another Club was never an option.
“We identified Steve as a really important part of our retention strategy this season. We’re absolutely delighted that he’s made the decision to stay with us until the end of 2017, as he’s one of the most damaging and powerful players in our game.” Mr Kelly said.
“For Sea Eagles Members and fans to know they won’t have to worry about seeing Steve line-up against the Club over the next few seasons is extremely pleasing. To also see Steve remain a one-club player in this era, really does put him in very elite company and is a special achievement.”
Sea Eagles Coach Geoff Toovey was equally assertive about the impact the centre has on the squad.
“It’s wonderful news for Steve and wonderful news for the Club. He’s a fantastic athlete and showed everyone again last season how influential he is to our side,” Toovey said.
“It’s not just how brutal he can be in defence, as he’s a far more well-rounded footballer than that. In attack he was our second highest try-scorer, made the most tackle busts and averaged almost 120m per-game. In any language, those stats are immense and a testament to how much he puts on the line each week.”
“We’re very lucky to have now have the two best, most experienced centres in the game right now locked up for the next few years. As a coach, you can’t be much happier than that,” he added.
Born: Auckland, NZ
NRL Debut: v Storm 27/03/2005
NRL Games: 203
NRL Tries: 80
NRL Goals: 20
NRL Points: 360
NRL Premierships: 2 (08’,11’)
International Caps: 10 (New Zealand)