Peter Mata’utia first came to the UK shores in the 2018 season, signing for the Leigh Centurions.
The utility back had had spells with NRL sides Newcastle Knights and St George Illawarra Dragons, registering 76 NRL appearances over a period of seven seasons.
Midway through the 2018 season, Mata’utia made the mid-season transfer to the Castleford Tigers before signing for the Warrington Wolves ahead of the 2022 Super League season.
But, it wasn’t until the lockdowns of 2020 that the rugby league fraternity was told about Mata’utia’s harrowing early life as well as his suicide attempt in later life.
“My childhood was tough; it was my mum bringing up seven children and two cousins,” Mata’utia told the Talk Your Walk podcast that he – along with fellow former Tigers stars Jesse Sene-Lefao and Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e as well as current Castleford man Suaia Matagi – set up.
“You guys are the first people I told – apart from my partner – about trying to commit suicide.”
For the quartet, their first show on the podcast was all about their ‘purpose’ and Mata’utia’s belief in his has rapidly changed over recent seasons.
“I’ve always thought rugby was my purpose but now I think it supports my purpose.
“My purpose is to keep sharing my experiences, there’s not enough time for everyone to make mistakes, so if we can share ours, people can use that.
“I enjoy my workshops and my going into schools and that’s my purpose.”
The Samoan international – for whom he has won four caps – revealed that it was the first lockdown in 2020 – that came about thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic – that really set the ball rolling for the change of heart.
“It was lockdown, we had a few talks in lockdown that were really good for us.
“For me that’s when I found out rugby wasn’t my purpose because I remember doing a workshop and Zoom chat with a rugby team and I remember how much I helped them during lockdown.
“My purpose is to help people.”
Mata’utia has been comforted since for opening up about his suicide attempt, but the 31-year-old also wanted to talk about his near-death experience on the field.
“In 2008/09 with my suicide, it made me realise that adversity is going to happen no matter what.
“It wasn’t something that rattled me, but when I nearly died from breaking my voice box, the lesson was to live life to my fullest.
“I joke around, mess around, but if I didn’t nearly die on the field I wouldn’t be doing that right now.”