Manly centre Steve Matai may have curbed the reckless streak that saw him frequently front the judiciary for the majority of his career, but he remains one of the most brutal hit-men in the NRL – as Penrith’s teenaged rookie Dallin Watene-Zelezniak found out the hard way last Sunday at Brookvale Oval.
The Panthers flyer had scooped up a Manly kick and raced 25 metres, but his break turned sour when Matai lined him up and crunched him with one of the hits of the year. To add insult to injury (Watene-Zelezniak was left sick and sorry on the turf for some time), DWZ’s pass was also ruled forward.
It was a terrifying reminder for opposition ball-runners ahead of the finals that the 30-year-old Matai is still lurking in the shadows, hungry to unleash the rib-shattering tackles that have long been his trademark.
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