Without a doubt the biggest hit of the weekend, and perhaps the season, was made by young Hurricanes hooker Motu Matu’u against the Force in Perth on Friday. Nicknamed ‘Bubbles’ in the past, he says he’s come a long way to get where he is today.
A product of Rongotai College in Wellington, the same school that Ma’a Nonu attended, Motu made his Super Rugby debut this season after having previously played ITM Cup rugby for the Wellington Lions. He says the move from the ‘size group’ has made all his hard work worth it.
“For me it’s always been fitness. I’ve been in the size group pretty much since my Wellington Academy days. Man, I’ve been in that group forever, a long time,” he said of the group that categorises players who are viewed as carrying too much fat, and not enough muscle.
“I just had to try and trim down, I was always pretty much a chubby boy, so I had to lose quite a bit. It wasn’t easy. Being an Islander and going home to food like that, of course you are going to indulge. But if you really want it, then of course you have to sacrifice something and that (food) was it for me. I’ve made the changes, I feel pretty good, probably the best I’ve ever felt in my career.”
He doubled up on training, attending Wellington Lions commitments as well as every one of the Oriental Rongotai club academy’s fitness sessions. He did this while working as a builder, where he had a forgiving boss who allowed him to start later in the day. “It was tough waking up early in the morning, getting to training at 6am, then after training finding the energy to work.”
He says nowadays it feels like he’s dreaming, playing alongside All Blacks like Cory Jane and Conrad Smith, and says that Nonu (who has since moved on to the Blues) had a huge influence on his career, motivating the 24 year old him to reach great heights.
“He has encouraged me big time. Having Ma’a there as a family friend as well, I grew up seeing him as an older brother sort of, so to see him crack it, I was like if he can crack it, how come I can’t?”
While he’s still playing off the bench due to the good form of hooker Dane Coles, Matu’u has said that the positive attitudes of the starters during training has helped motivate the reserves to make a difference when they get their opportunity.
He did exactly that on the weekend against the Force, as he came on and within minutes absolutely demolished number eight Matt Hodgson, who buckled under the weight of what looked to be one of the most impressive legal hits many of us have ever seen.
To add insult to injury, the Hurricanes scored 6 tries and won the game 46-19.
Credit: Fairfax Digital for the quotes