NEW Saints recruit Sione Mata’utia gave his early thoughts on leaving Newcastle, the lure of St Helens, his new teammates, seeing snow and the prospect of coming up against his older brother Peter at Castleford when the Star’s Mike Critchley caught up with him earlier this week.

MC: You've Been here a few weeks now, what have been your early impressions of St Helens?

SM: When we landed the cold hit us pretty quickly, but I don’t mind that and have been pretty positive with the move.

We have been lucky enough to have a house to go into straight away thanks to club legend Tommy Martyn.

The kids are loving it and my mrs is slowly acclimatising and getting used to it.

We have a girl Amiyah, who is three, and our boy Noah is one, so it is a pretty busy house at the moment and nice and loud.

Moving over, we did not know what we had but the club have been great in sorting us out some toys for the kids.

Something small like that was so big for us because it showed they cared about my kids and had thought about us before we had even got here.

That is keeping the kids occupied and they have also got to see the snow for the first time – and so did I. The kids loved it. The move has been awesome, can’t fault it at the moment.

St Helens Star:

MC: Can’t have been easy to uproot your family, in the middle of a pandemic, and move over here?

SM: It was a scary move, even though I was positive about it. I was moving my partner away from her support network. Hannah’s parents had played a big part in taking care of the kids and giving us some free time. It is not an easy decision to make, moving across the other side of the world.

I knew that I would be all right because I was training with the boys and my time was going by fast, but my mrs backed my decision.

It is a big move for us, and this is going to add to our relationship and take it to a further level without as much support around us.

Once lockdown is over and the weather improves, then I am sure this country will have the best to show us.

St Helens Star:

MC: And what has it been like up with the boys at training?

SM: I have fitted in straight away, there’s plenty of characters in the team, LMS and Kyle Amor are two lads who have made training a lot more fun.

There are plenty of strong kids there. What is sort of amazing is the quality of the players – in the training sessions they have been quick and fast, and the quality has been awesome.

There is not much between the difference in the qualities and abilities from the least to the most experienced player, so it is definitely a good group of boys. And it has been good to get to know them.

St Helens Star:

MC: Did you know much about any of the players, individually, before arriving here?

SM: I knew a lot about the club but not about too many players individually, I have watched a few of the senior players play in the World Cup.

When I was close to signing I started to watch them and support them at the back end of the season – knew a bit more about them then from the TV.

I am hoping we can repeat it – I am sure the boys can have another good year and we are training hard to repeat that success.

St Helens Star:

MC: You have been a one-club man at Newcastle Knights, so how big a wrench was it leaving there – and what swung you towards St Helens?

SM: I never wanted to leave the club and always wanted to be a one-man club at Newcastle and it was part of my reason for not signing with another NRL club. Coming to England was a way of still being a one-team man.

I knew the success of the St Helens club when I was talking with my manager and I knew they have been successful.

Woolfy being here as head coach was also decisive. I have been coached by Woolfy in the past at Newcastle Knights and loved the way he coached and his approach. He is a man’s man and pretty honest – but at the same time you can approach him and have a pretty good conversation.

I like his style of play and his attitude.

I also spoke with my older brother Peter at Cas. I wanted to re-connect with him I have always looked up to him and he has been that solid rock that I have looked up to.

He was honest – and he said it is cold, but told me to come with an open mind and expect the unexpected. He said try to embrace the culture – I am pretty sweet with it all.

I can be closer to him and my nieces and nephews, his kids.

And I also asked few of the ex-players here, like Zeb Taia, and current players like Kevin Naiqama have helped a lot.

Danny Buderus, also from Newcastle, had a stint over here with Leeds and he gave me good advice on coming here and making right call.

St Helens Star:

MC: Been a lot of past links between the clubs – Matt Gidley, Darren Albert and Peter Shiels all did well here from Newcastle. Are those blokes still around to get advice from too over there?

SM: One of good things about Newcastle is the old boys have a strong bond, whenever there is debutant the old boys come in and present the jersey. They are probably the best old boys club in NRL.

Matt Gidley and Darren Albert are pretty famous people back in Newcastle – Luke Walsh is another former Knight. There’s plenty of Novacastrians who have come this way and done pretty well. There are people there I have sought advice from, that is for sure.

MC: Are your days of playing in the three-quarters over with, or do you like to keep that option open?

SM: I never rule it out. I like to have versatility in my game and being able to stay light enough to play in the centres, but strong and quick enough to play in the back row and even in the middle somewhere.

It adds that bit of value to the team if we lose someone, somewhere I think I can slot in there – I like to keep my tools ready to go.

St Helens Star:

MC: Are you looking forward to playing against your brother Peter again?

SM: Sure. The last time we played against each other was four to five years ago at Newcastle and he got the better of me. I need to get one back and can’t wait to play him at the Jungle. Ever since I made my decision, that is all he has said.

It is going to be fun, but also very brutal. He does not hold back, but neither do I so I am keen.

It was crazy when the four of us boys were growing up. The oldest and youngest were together and my two brothers in the middle always teaming up.

There was always plenty of tears and they were not from the older three, definitely me. People would try and stick up for me. It was good memories for me from the back yard and a few broken windows that is for sure.