Full-back Peter Mata’utia is delighted to be teaming up with his old school friend after Jordan Rankin joined him at Castleford Tigers (writes Tony Harber).
Mata’utia has known Rankin since their schooldays back in Australia and reckons their long standing friendship can only help the Castleford side as they look to develop new combinations this year.
He explained: “I’ve known Jordan since I was a kid. We played schoolboys together and I played against him as a young kid. We’ve known each other for a long time and it’s good to have him here helping me with the combinations with the halves.
“He’s one of those players you’d prefer to have in your team than play against. I’ve no doubt he can do a good job for us. He’s a very experienced player. He’s been there and done most of the things you’d like to do as a rugby league player.
“We’ve got Jordy there and Macca who is just leading us round the field, who’s probably in the top two best hookers in this comp, so I think we’ll be all right.”
Mata’utia admitted the Tigers still had a few things to work on despite winning their opening game against Catalans.
He said: “It was a great start for us, especially against a team that finished pretty good last year and rated by most experts to finish in the top five. Hopefully we can keep that momentum going, but there were areas we can improve on.
“I thought we had too many errors as a team, especially in the second half.
“We could have put Catalans away pretty early and we’ve worked on that this week and hopefully can take it into Thursday night’s game.”
Mata’utia was impressed with his side’s defending.
He continued: “We’ve been working on our defence a lot during pre-season. Everyone knows Cas is an attacking team and we’ve tried to change our mentality about just being a tough, grinding team.
“We turned the ball round a few times as well as defending our try-line back to back. Hopefully we can keep that going and not just make it a one-off.”
On his own form, Mata’utia was happy with the way he started the season against Catalans, apart from one error when he spilled the ball attempting to gather a tricky kick.
He added: “I really enjoy playing in this team. I like to take control of our defence and try to be as much of a leader as I can be. I just want to get better every week and try to do my best to help this team win.
“Full-back is where I can offer most in a team.
“I’ve always been a player who will play anywhere for the team. But I’m enjoying full-back at the minute, especially under Powelly and Shez and in this team as well. It’s been good so far.”