Parramatta Eels forward Suaia Matagi has said his experience last week, representing Samoa in the Representative Round was an experience and opportunity he will cherish for the rest of his life.
Reflecting on the week, the hard running forward said the opportunity to represent his heritage and experience a week in camp with Samoa was one he is thankful for.
“I was really thankful for the opportunity to be able to represent my heritage,” Matagi said.
“To do that, and to be able to go into camp was an experience and something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
“We had a lot of fun, but got to experience a fair bit about our culture, where our parents came from, learnt dances and sang some songs that they do on a regular basis back home. To experience that, it was so cool to learn a little bit more about where our parents came from.” He added.
Matagi said playing along side his fellow Samoan teammates, many of which he looked up to, was the real highlight.
“It was a real honour to run out with a heap of those boys. I thought about it before we went out, but the likes of Sam Kasiano, Junior Paulo in the forward back and some of the backs as well, it was cool to experience that,” Matagi said.
“I am thankful for the Rep Round that I could experience something like that and like I said, it has been one of the real highlights.”
“It was crazy to perform the Siva Tau. It was such an honour to be able to go out there. The atmosphere at the crazy, a whole different level, and probably one of the biggest ones I have played in so far.” He added.
And with the 2017 Rugby League World Cup approaching, Matagi said that his sole focus would be playing strong and consistent football for the Parramatta Eels, but would love to be there representing Samoa at the end of the year.
“Despite the result, we knew we could walk off with a lot of positives heading towards the World Cup. We know a few of the things we have to work on, and if we can work on that, we will perform well,” Matagi said.
“I am really keen to just focus on the Eels but definitely in terms of the World Cup, for Toa Samoa, 100 percent.”
“I will just try and put my best foot forward and be back in that seventeen when it comes around.”
And his focus this week is against an in-form Sydney Roosters outfit.
The Blue & Gold clash with the tri-colours on Sunday 14 May for Round 10 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, and Matagi is hopefuly the Eels can continue their winning ways, however expects a tough clash against a strong opposition.
“It will definitely be a huge challenge for us, and we will see where we are at as a team” Matagi said.
“With the win in Round Nine over the Cowboys, hopefully we can back that up again and go again. But the Roosters, they are going really good as well and enter the clash with strong form so we definitely know it will be a tough game."
“The week and rest over rep round, a few of the boys who weren’t involved with rep duties probably enjoyed having the time off and that could be a good thing, but I guess we will see this week against the Roosters.” He added.
The Eels kick off against the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium on Sunday at 4pm.
The NRL celebrates Indigenous Round this weekend.