Warrington Wolves star Peter Mata’utia has completed a remarkable u-turn to join Lakes United in the lower tiers of Australian rugby league.
The former Castleford Tigers and Warrington Wolves star had announced his retirement but has become the latest player to leave Super League for this level of the game with former Leeds Rhinos star Blake Austin and Wakefield Trinity legend David Fifita both joining the Entrance Tigers.
Mata’utia had announced his retirement from the sport before agreeing to join Lakes United over in Newcastle Australia.
Lakes United football manager Tony Delany said obtaining Mata’utia’s services was a “huge coup” for the organisation.
“He’ll bring so much to the Seagulls,” he explained, “And, we’ve obviously signed Peter due to the experience he’s had within the game.
“During our [recruitment] process, we’re looking to target guys who are known winners… and he ticks that box.
“Not only with what he does on the field but also with his mindset and professional preparational off the paddock.
“Knowing the player and performer Peter is, we’re certainly hoping that filters down through our pathway system as well.”
Lakes United finished eighth in 2023, registering six victories. However, the Seagulls were competitive in most encounters. The addition of Mata’utia should push the promising squad towards semi-final contention.
“Peter will make a big difference,” Delany said, “We’ve got a lot of young up-and-comers progressing through the grades, like Caleb Faulkner and Ryan Potts. But, Peter just brings that element we’ve been sort of lacking late in a game.
“Quite often, for about 65 minutes, we’ve been the better team. So, Peter’s the icing on top, helping not only for what he brings but also his mentorship, something the young guys can learn in those [tight] situations. That was another key reason for his signing.”
Delany said Mata’utia would play a part in nurturing Lakes United’s next talent pool, too, alongside respected coach Ian “Bubba” Bourke.
“That’s something Peter highlighted during his negotiation,” he told the Newcastle Weekly, “He just didn’t want to come and play.
“He’s keen to work within our career pathways development framework… and it’s something he’s really passionate about.
“I have a feeling he might be eyeing off a coaching role in rugby league after he hangs up the boots.
“So, by coming to the Seagulls, it gives Peter an opportunity to do that under an experienced mentor like Bubba.
“Ian’s probably one of the greatest experts in pathways in the NSW region. And, Peter will gain so much working alongside him.”