NRL: Newcastle Knights Peter Mata’utia knows his opposite numbersphotos

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Mata’utia keeps close eye on rival Rabbitohs MONITOR: Newcastle Knights centre Peter Mata’utia reckons he has always been a student of the game. Picture: Getty Images

STACKS ON: Knights centre Peter Mata’utia gets mobbed by teammates after scoring the try which leveled the scores at 26-all against Gold Coast in Newcastle with five minutes remaining on Saturday. Picture: Getty Images

TweetFacebook Peter Mata’utiaPictures from Fairfax Digital CollectionBy his own admission Peter Mata’utia watches too much rugby league.

From growing up to life as a professional player, the Newcastle Knights centre can’t get enough and has always gravitated towards it.

But despite a drought-breaking and morale-boosting NRL victory for the Knights on Saturday afternoon it has remainedbusiness as usual for the 26-year-old ahead of hisnext assignment at home against South Sydney.

“I know whose playing in front of me,” Mata’utia said.

“I used to tell [younger brother and teammate] Sione I watched too much footy when Iwas growing up, but I think it has worked out now.

“I know every centres favourite run and favourite step, it’spart of my job to know who I’m playing each week.

“I watched the Souths game over the weekend and they have a very good team so we need to be ready to play.”

Mata’utia will likely line up against Hymel Hunt and winger Braidon Burns on his left edge with Robert Jennings and Bryson Goodwin on the other side of the field for the Rabbitohs while Alex Johnston replaces injured superstar Greg Inglis in the No.1 jersey.

“It doesn’t really change anything[without Greg Inglis],” he said.

“Alex Johnston is asuperstar player as well and they’ve got [halfback] Adam Reynolds back, who they didn’t have round one and lost but returned last week and won.

“Plus they have [lock] Sam Burgess, so it will be a very tough game for us and we’ll have to be on song to get the two points.”

It was the Raymond Terrace junior who helped levelproceedings with five minutes left against the Gold Coast Titans at McDonald Jones Stadium before the Knights kicked on to secure a 34-26 triumph in round two.

Mata’utia, who debuted with the Knights in 2011 and returned to the club midway through last season after a stint with St George Illawarra, said it was a specialmoment to crash over for that try near the uprights at the southern end of the ground.

“It was just a surreal feeling,” he said.

“Once I got over the line I felt everyone’senergy.”

Newcastle and Souths sit next to each other on the competition ladder, either side of the top eight with one win apiece, and share the exact same points differential (56 for, 52 against).

The Knights named an unchanged 17 playerson Tuesday but English import Joe Wardle and former n Schoolboys representative Jacob Gagan were included in the extended 21-man squad for the first time.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS: 1 Brendan Elliot2 Ken Sio 3 Dane Gagai 4 Peter Mata’utia 5 Nathan Ross 6 Brock Lamb 7 Trent Hodkinson ©8 Daniel Saifiti 9 Daniel Levi 10 Josh Starling 11 Sione Mata’utia 12 Jamie Buhrer 13 Mitch Barnett 14 Luke Yates 15 Jack Stockwell 16 Sam Stone 17 Jacob Saifiti 18 Jacob Gagan 19 Joe Wardle 20 Josh King 21 Anthony Tupou

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