MANLY hardman Steve Matai’s hopes of playing football again are getting more remote by the day and it appears the brave Kiwi will be forced to hang up his boots before next season.
No player in the NRL has endured more pain than Matai during the past decade.
A bruising defender and willing ball-runner, the Kiwi plays well above his weight, but the big hits have taken an awful toll on his shoulders and neck. He underwent neck surgery earlier in the year and was hoping to return as good as new in 2017.
But I’m hearing the injury isn’t healing as well as the 32-year-old centre hoped and he is unlikely to be cleared to play again.
Matai was renowned for being able to play with pain but the fact his neck is continuing to cause problems is a major concern for his long-term health.
The good news for Matai is that if he does retire, insurance should cover his entire contract money for next season.