Manly's Matai won't curb aggressive style - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly's Matai won't curb aggressive style

Ben Horne 05/04/2011 06:15:16 PM Comments (0)

Steve Matai has promised to continue with his aggressive style of play despite the Manly centre's NRL judiciary record hanging ominously over him.

The explosive New Zealand international 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.

"I've had a discussion with Des (Hasler) and he's made it clear he doesn't want me to change the way I play," said Matai.

"I play hard and I play with a purpose and Dessie wants me to keep doing that.

"Just for myself, I don't want to let the team down again so I'll definitely be playing hard but within the guidelines."

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 said 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.

"I've definitely let the boys down, I've put them in a tough position and I've taken it upon myself to come out there on Saturday and give it a big one for the boys," he said.

"When I get lazy it tends to go wrong for me, so I don't think they're (refs) really out there targeting me.

"I like to do things with a purpose, whether it's running the ball or tackling ... with me it's being patient in defence and not looking for the big hit every single tackle."

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.

Coach Hasler said: "you can play aggressive within the rules," while team-mate Glenn Stewart also backed Matai to control his defence.

"Steve brings that aggression to our side obviously and I'm sure he'll look to taper that a little, but hopefully not too much because that's why we love having him in our side," Stewart said.

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