Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Photo by Wests Tigers Media
The Wests Tigers recently announced that teen prodigy Justin Matamua had been promoted to the club’s top 30 squad.
He has been touted as a future star and the Tigers will be hoping that Matamua can be the club’s first success story to come out of their brand-new state-of-the-art centre of excellence.
In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph Tigers coach Tim Sheens commented on Matamua’s contract upgrade.
“Justin has made the most of his opportunities on the back of hard work and dedication,” Sheens said.
“He has moved swiftly through our representative teams, playing Harold Matthews (U/17s) only a year or two ago.”
Matamua has not only received public praise from his coach though as Tigers forward and one of their best players in 2022 Joe Ofahengaue also spoke to The Daily Telegraph about his new teammate.
“Young Justin is coming for my spot and that puts pressure on me,” Ofahengaue said.
“That’s what you want in a group. I’ve been a part of a team that did that for each other.
“When I was at [Brisbane], we went all the way to a grand final because of that.
“We were all competing.
“Our Cup team during training sessions, it was like we were playing a full game against each other.
“We just wanted each other’s spots.
“It’ll test your character.”
Despite being outside of the Tigers top 30 last season Matamua made his debut for the club in their round 17 loss to the Parramatta Eels.
The 19-year-old would come off the bench for 22 minutes of game time where he made 18 tackles and ran for 58 metres.
He was then selected to come off the bench again the following week against the Penrith Panthers in an 18-16 defeat.
Matamua himself also briefly commented on his upgrade.
— Wests Tigers (@WestsTigers) November 23, 2022
“Making my NRL debut was a dream come true and being added to the top squad is another special moment,” Matamua said.
“Right now, I’m just looking forward to next season but it’s great to know I’m here long term.”
The Tigers see Matamua as a long-term investment that they will hope to get the best out of in a few years time but he will likely feature in the 17-man squad on a more consistent basis.