Maroons welcome Mat
GOLD COAST Titans NRL veteran Mat Rogers was born in Sydney.
As a teenager he went to Ballina High School.
His famous father Steve played 21 games in the centres for New South Wales in the 1970s and ’80s.
But when State of Origin rolls around, the dual international and eight-time Maroon is a banana-bender through and through.
And similar to the position Maroons hierarchy has landed in after its Israel Folau selection backflip, Rogers thinks his adopted State has done the right thing by choosing the AFL’s newest marketing man for State of Origin game two on Wednesday night.
“The Queensland selectors have absolutely done the right thing and they should be commended for selecting Israel,” Rogers said.
“He is the right man for the job and he is in great form.”
Rather than look at Folau’s defection as a kick in the guts, Rogers thinks people should be more open minded.
“To have guys being bought up by rival sports is a credit to our game,” he said.
“We produce the best athletes and our game encompasses a whole heap of skill sets that can be applied
to other sports.”
And proving that the AFL and Greater Western Sydney’s ambush marketing ploy will be a winner, Rogers revealed a new level of interest in the rival code.
“I can’t wait to watch Izzy suit up and play AFL,” he said.
“There’s no point being bitter at rival sports. I love all sports.
“There is enough room for all sports to co-exist so any animosity towards another sport is just wasted energy.”
Rogers will return to the spluttering Titans outfit for their home clash with the wounded Sea Eagles tomorrow night.
The left centre has made a remarkable recovery from a knee injury that was expected to keep him sidelined for at least another month.
And he expects his side to arrest the three-game slide that has seen them slip from equal first to sixth on the competition ladder after 13 rounds.
“There was a real turnaround in the second half against Canberra last week,” he said.
“We dug ourselves out of the hole that we had been stuck in and hopefully that means we can get back on the board this week.”
The Manly side will be missing internationals Anthony Watmough, Jamie Lyon, David Williams and Steve Matai – the latter an opposing centre known for his aggressive and physical play.
When asked if it was a relief that hitman Matai wouldn’t be lining up for some opposition rib-tickling, Rogers replied:
“Nah, he normally doesn’t hit his opposite man anyway, it’s usually someone out behind the play that isn’t expecting it.”