Kearney says Matai must change style - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kearney says Matai must change style

By Ian McCullough 07/09/2010 04:19:57 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney says Manly centre Steve Matai needs to reassess the way he plays after being banned from the NRL finals and Four Nations Test series.

Matai and Sea Eagles co-captain Jason King will both miss Manly's must-win qualifying final clash with minor premiers St George Illawarra on Sunday after taking early guilty pleas to high tackle charges on Tuesday.

While King will return the following week if Manly can pull off a big upset at Kogarah, serial offender Matai will not be seen on the field again at least until round three next year.

He doesn't even get to count New Zealand's Tests in the upcoming Four Nations series as part of his seven match ban as he hadn't been chosen in the Kiwis' tournament squad yet.

His long ban for a grade three reckless high and late tackle on Canterbury hooker Michael Ennis on Sunday follows a three-match suspension earlier in the season for a careless tackle on Jarryd Hayne.

Kearney admitted he was disappointed to learn of the latest ban as he contemplates his Kiwis selection and said Matai needs to look at ways of remaining aggressive but within the laws of the game.

"Often you are waiting for a call about a player's injury, but it is unfortunate for Steve to miss out, he would certainly come under consideration for the squad," Kearney told AAP.

"I am sure (Manly coach) Dessie Hasler would have told him he has a few areas that he needs to improve on.

"What is a very strong part of his game is also one which he sails very close to the wind with.

"Des will want him to change a few things and Steve will be the first to acknowledge he is no good to anyone on the sidelines and needs to work on it.

"However, it is sad that Steve misses the opportunity to play for his club on Sunday and his country."

The enforced break will at least give Matai time to rest and repair his battered body after a season that has seen him dogged yet again with shoulder and ankle injuries.

"If there is any positive from it I suppose, it is that it gives him time to get his shoulder fixed and come back next season back to his best and that will benefit not only us but also Manly," Kearney said.

Manly team-mate Chris Bailey also gave an early guilty plea to a high tackle but will be available for selection against the Dragons.

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