6 Apr 2011

Matai set to return to NRL and vows to maintain aggression

9:08 am on 6 April 2011

The New Zealand league international Steve Matai has promised to continue with his aggressive style of play despite the Manly star's NRL judiciary record hanging ominously over him.

The explosive Kiwi's centre has a terrible record at the game's tribunal and a seven-match suspension carrying over from last year means he will play only his first game of 2011 this Saturday against Cronulla.

Matai has frequently attracted the ire of referees throughout his career, a consequence of his hit-man approach to the game.

Another slip up this season is likely to result in a lengthy stint on the sidelines.

But the 26 year-old's ferocious defence provides the Sea Eagles with inspiration on the field, and it's a specialist role he and the team want maintained, regardless of the dangers.

Instead of blaming referees for singling him out because of reputation, Matai is quick to take responsibility for the precarious position he finds himself in.

Matai says he's pinpointed the situations where he finds himself in trouble and will work hard at avoiding them.

The enforced lay-off has allowed the injury-plagued centre to reach full fitness over the pre-season, and he's determined to make up for his time out.

Matai acknowledges there's some pressure on him to hold his spot, given the strong form of Will Hopoate who will revert to the wing this week.