NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 17: Sione Mata'Utia of the Knights looks on during the round 15 NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Melbourne Storm at McDonald Jones Stadium on June 17, 2018 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images)

Former Newcastle captain Sione Mata'utia is considering a surprise return to the NRL after collecting two premierships in two seasons with St Helens.

Mata'utia made history in 2014 after becoming the youngest-ever Kangaroo, making his debut for Australia on the wing after just seven NRL games for Newcastle.

The Australian and Samoan international played 124 NRL games for the side between 2014 and 2020, playing every position on the park except for five-eighth, hooker and the front-row during his stint seven-season stint.

The back-rower is back in Australia as part of St Helens' 26-man squad set to face Penrith in the World Club Challenge next weekend, and will face-off against St George Illawarra in tonight's warm-up clash.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 19: Sione Mata'Utia of the Knights reacts after the game finished in a draw during the round three NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the Canberra Raiders at Hunter Stadium on March 19, 2016 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

The 26-year-old has won more premierships in the Super League than he played finals games for the Knights, collecting three consecutive wooden spoons between 2015 and 2017, however after a series of concussions later in his NRL career, he credits his departure for his rugby league revival.

"Looking back on it now, it was probably one of those things that saved my career a little bit. It brought the love of footy back," the now-forward told The Newcastle Herald.

"This is my last year in England and hopefully there is some interest back home here and to getting back and playing with someone here, but if not - it is what it is.

"I've loved the decision of going over there. I've learnt so much and it got me out of my comfort zone. I probably got a bit too comfortable in Newcastle, if I'm honest.

"I came to a club that ... when I rocked up, there were eight English international players, so I sort of had to reinvent myself and make a name for myself, which is probably what I needed."

The club switch came as a massive culture shock for Mata'utia, who said that achieving success at a club was 'weird' after his stint in Newcastle.

"I had to be on the jump from the start, they just demand standards," he said.

"It was something that took me by shock, because I never really had that accountability. It made me a better player and taught me a lot about professionalism.

"The success was weird. Winning was normal for us, and I'd never actually had that feeling. The flip side of that is, every team wants to beat St Helens so every week is a really hard game.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 18: Sione Mata'Utia of the Knights in action during the round three NRL match between the Newcastle Knights and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at McDonald Jones Stadium on March 18, 2017 in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)

"It gets a bit rough at times whereas when I was at Newcastle, we were sort of at the bottom of the table for many years and a team that was always rebuilding."

While he's off-contract at the end of this season, Mata'utia had closed the door to an NRL return, but the former Kangaroo believes you can 'never say never'.

"When I first went to England, it was over and said and done. I never wanted to come back and was probably going to retire after England," he said of returning to the NRL.

"Never say never, we'll see how we go. I haven't locked in anything as of yet."

Sione will start alongside English international Joe Batchelor in the back-row as they face a depleted St George Illawarra Dragons in tonight's instalment of the pre-season challenge.


  1. St Helens will smash my dragons. Griffin will look like a rabbit in headlights at the press conference. Hopefully this is nail #1 in his coffin.

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