When new Penrith Panthers prop Suaia Matagi finished a hot, gruelling training session on Monday afternoon, he was certainly feeling it.
With protein shake in hand – roasted coffee beans flavour – the 27-year-old was relieved it was over.
“It wasn’t in the contract it was going to be this hot – no one warned me,” he joked.
“The first week I arrived here I couldn’t walk because of the heat.”
But despite the uncomfortably warm temperatures, the down-to-earth Kiwi couldn’t be more grateful to have found a home in Sydney’s west after short but sweet stints at the New Zealand Warriors and Sydney Roosters.
“I’m definitely enjoying it here, I’ve loved it ever since day one,” he said.
“Everyone’s been very welcoming and it’s such a good club with a lot of history.
“I was really fortunate to play in last week’s 50th anniversary game. I just love Penrith and the community.”
Despite the Panthers still being winless after two rounds, Matagi has certainly impressed during in his first two outings off the bench.
The former Samoan and New Zealand international said he was very appreciative to be playing regular first grade in a brand new side.
“I’m definitely thankful for Penrith and the coaching staff for letting me play these first two games,” Matagi said.
“But I can’t relax, I have to keep on working hard and do my best for the team.”
When coming off the bench, coach Anthony Griffin instructs Matagi to lift the energy and don’t leave anything behind.
“Coach keeps telling me to put it all out there and be selfless,” he said.
“We need to come together, go out there as brothers and put in the hard work.”
Penrith will need to come together and be at their very best this weekend when they tackle a red-hot Brisbane Broncos outfit at Pepper Stadium. The Broncos remain undefeated so far this season.
Matagi knows his side were rather unlucky in the opening two games, but believes a win is just around the corner.
“We’ll learn from those first two games and it’ll just make us more hungrier,” he said.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.