Pushing past the pain one more time
Steve Matai is not even thinking of Mad Monday costumes.
With rugby league’s mad social day for teams not participating in the Telstra Premiership finals just a few days away, it is one party Matai is happy to put on hold for the time being.
For Matai, the hard hitting centre well acquainted with playing finals footy, the season is still alive.
When you think of finals footy in September, Manly is often at the forefront.
But not in 2015. Unless things change in the next few days.
It is why the current situation facing the Sea Eagles in the final round of the regular season is an uncomfortable one for the Kiwi international.
Firstly, the Sea Eagles need Wests Tigers to beat St George-Illawarra well at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
Should it happen, Matai and his team-mates will then gear up for one last finals shot against Cronulla Sharks on Sunday, knowing victory is a must. They will also know what points differential they need to overtake the Dragons to claim eighth spot.
However, a Dragons victory means the end of Manly for the season - a feeling Matai doesn’t want to experience.
"It's going to be pretty weird – I've never finished the competition this early," he said.
“We usually play deep into September and to be sitting at home watching will be quite disappointing."
Should Manly be out, what is of little consolation for this premiership winning warrior is the chance to heal.
Injuries are part of the game. Playing with them can be really hard at any time, particualry when the season is on the line.
The team must come first. And there is none tougher in beating through the pain barrier than Matai.
He rattles off his current injuries like his is filling out a medical form.
"Broken nose, broken finger, thumb, ankle," Matai said.
With that, he walks over for another physical session. Could it be a case of ‘expect the unexpected’ this weekend?
Matai hopes so. Just to experience that special September feeling again.