Manly's Matai to rethink kamikaze approach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manly's Matai to rethink kamikaze approach

David Beniuk 14/08/2011 05:00:57 PM Comments (0)

Manly hitman Steve Matai will be reining in his kamikaze defence heading into the NRL finals, admitting he needs to rethink his approach.

Centre Matai, whose opportunistic double proved crucial in the Sea Eagles' 26-20 win over Parramatta on Saturday night, is even living by a new mantra - "tackling for the occasion".

The Kiwi international has a long rap sheet with the NRL match review committee, but is fully aware poor discipline could cost high-flying Manly dearly at the business end of the season.

"It's just tackling for the occasion," Matai said of the new approach.

"It's not going to be every tackle out there that's going to be a big shot.

"The boys have been doing it well this year.

"When the boys need a lift in defence someone will shoot out of the line and make a good tackle and something like that just lifts the team."

Renowned for his aggressive hits on opposing centres, Matai said the move had needed a major rethink on his part.

"I've worked on it with (coach) Dessy (Hasler)," he said.

"We've gone through a lot of video and it's just tackling for the occasion when there's not going to be a big shot every single tackle."

The emphasis may normally be on the 27-year-old's defence but Matai has been in some of the best attacking form of his career in 2011, something he attributes to an improvement in his support play.

"I'm just pushing a bit more," he said.

"We worked a bit on my support play, when the ball is going away from me I'm still turning the legs over so I think that's helped quite a bit.

"Des has put in offensive structures for us and if we go out there and stick to them we're going to score points.

"More this year our defence has been what's winning us games."

The Sea Eagles rallied on the back of some horrendous Parramatta errors on Saturday night, with Matai scavenging a double after howlers from Jarryd Hayne and Chris Hicks.

Matai said coming back from 14-6 down after a poor first half would steel Manly for the campaign ahead, which includes matches to conclude the regular season against fellow big guns Melbourne and Brisbane.

"It's good mentally for us," he said.

"We came in at halftime and Dessy spoke about switching on upstairs and the boys really took that on board.

"We came out in the second half and really lifted."

NSW State of Origin representative Will Hopoate is expected to be fit for next weekend's clash with Canterbury after jarring his knee at Parramatta Stadium.

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