BROTHERLY LOVE: The Mata’utia boys – and friends – paying a visit to John Hunter Hospital’s Ronald McDonald House.IT would have been easy to start off my first column by reflecting on the pre-season, how hard we’ve trained, and how wellprepared we are for Sunday’s round-one clash with the Warriors.

But I’m guessing you’ve heard that all before.

So instead I would like to take you behind the scenes and provide an insight into what some of my teammates, the Mata’utia boys, have been doing in their down time.

Since he arrived back from St George Illawarra midway through last season, Peter Mata’utia has played mainly as left-side centre, and more often than not I’ve been outside him on the left wing.

When we travel to away games and stay overnight, we’re roommates.

We’ve known each other for years, but in the past 12 months we’ve become really close friends, and I can only admire what he and his siblings Chanel, Pat and Sioneare trying to achieve in establishing theMata’utiaBrothersFoundation, which is in the final stagesof becoming a non-profit charity.

Their goal is to raise money for local sporting teams and the community in general.

In particular, they are hoping to sponsor aroom at Ronald McDonald house, so that families from outside the region are able to stay close to their sick children at no cost. Once the foundation is registered, they planto launch a website that will allow people to donate to what I believe is a really worthy cause.

The thing about the Mata’utias is that they genuinely care about people who have encountered toughtimes.

With four brothers and three sisters in the family, they had a humble upbringing and their mother,Matalena, worked two jobs to put food on the table.

They’ve been lucky enough that, through rugby league, they have been able to create a pathway for themselves, but they haven’t forgotten where they have come from, and the help and support they received along the way.

They love Newcastle, they’re very grateful for the position they are now in, and this is their way of saying thanks to the community.

It’s only in the early stages, but it would be nice to think that, through their foundation, they can leave a legacy for this city long after their playing days have finished.

More immediately, Peter and I have a job to do on Sunday, namely keeping the Warriors’ right edge – Tuimoala Lolohea andDavid Fusitua –contained.

There is a great feeling in the campat the moment, especially after our big win against Canberra in the trial match two weeks ago.

I’m sure every team is confident at this time of year but we know how hard we have trained, and how much everyone has improved.

It’s a relief that the pre-season is finally over and we can get down to business.

It’s going to be a big year for the Knights. I can’t wait for it to kick off.

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