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Matulino charged for final Warriors hurrah

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 29/04/2017 Angelo Risso

Ben Matulino of the Warriors (March 5, 2016) © Getty Images/Mark Kolbe Ben Matulino of the Warriors (March 5, 2016) At the end of the Warriors' loss to Melbourne on Tuesday, coach Stephen Kearney told the squad Ben Matulino had an announcement to make.

But the Warriors prop, for all he tried, couldn't get the words out of his mouth.

He would be leaving the NRL club at the end of 2017.

"(Stephen) pretty much finished it off for me," Matulino said.

"It was pretty tough telling the boys, being at the club for 10 years.

"It got pretty emotional."

The 28-year-old Kiwis international, who has made 197 Warriors appearances since 2008, signed a lucrative three-year deal with Wests Tigers this week.

The contract, reportedly worth $A700,000 ($NZ763,414) a year, is a swift response by the Tigers to the all-but-confirmed departure of off-contract skipper Aaron Woods.

But for Matulino, who played his first game of the season in Melbourne after recovering from a knee infection, there was only one thing on his mind.

Success with the Warriors in 2017, starting with the Roosters on Sunday.

Likely to again start on the bench, Matulino will be injected into the fray against the likes of Kiwis enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, returning forwards Mitch Aubusson and Dylan Napa and NSW Origin regular Boyd Cordner.

The fourth-placed Roosters will also have the power of ex-Warrior Sio Siua Taukeiaho to call on from the bench, who Matulino compared to the rampaging Jason Taumalolo.

"The amount of quality players in that team - nearly everyone in that forward pack is an international or representative player," Matulino said.

"They're traditionally a team that likes to bully players, big and tough through the middle, so we've got a big task on our hands."

Once one of the NRL's premier front rowers, Matulino struggled for consistent form in 2016 and was one of six players stood down from Test football after taking a cocktail of prescription drugs and energy drinks on an Auckland night out.

The Wellingtonian made 23 appearances last year as the side finished 10th, averaging 116 metres and just one offload per game.

Matulino admitted he had always been open to a change of scenery and jumped at the chance when current Tigers and former Warriors boss Ivan Cleary came calling.

"How I went last year, it wasn't up to par and I thought I just needed a fresh start - decided that when the season kicked off," the 23-Test Kiwi said.

"I know Ivan will challenge me as soon as I go over."


-The Roosters have won just three of their past nine NRL matches against the Warriors in New Zealand, coming in successive seasons from 2013-15.

-The Warriors have conceded 20 points or more in seven of their eight NRL matches in 2017.

-The Roosters have won four of their five away matches in 2017 so far, already far superior to their single away win in the 2016 campaign.


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