(Photo: weststigers.com.au)

As the Under 19s State of Origin approaches, The Inner Sanctum will be delivering player profiles, interviews and information about the New South Wales squad members. These relatively unknown players are the stars of the next generation. Up next… Justin Matamua.

Justin Matamua will be one of two Wests Tigers players competing on Thursday night. Normally playing in the second-row and lock position in the New South Wales Cup, he will be starting for the Under 19s NSW side as a prop.

In his four appearance for the Western Suburbs Magpies he is averaging 46 run metres per game and has made 92 tackles, only missing three.

He will be hoping to make an impact from his first hit-up. With the Tigers sitting near the bottom of the ladder, they are going through a rebuilding stage. As a young player, Matamua will hope to have a dominating performance, especially at his home ground

After impressing in the pre-season, Matamua signed a three-year contract with the Tigers until 2024. In this contract he will still be regarded as an NRL Development Player until the conclusion of the 2023 season. After the 2023 season he will be contracted as a player in the top 30 squad for 2024.

During his promising junior performances he caught the eye of former head coach Tim Sheens.

“Justin is a talented young forward and we’re very excited to see him continue his career in a Wests Tigers jersey moving forward,” Sheens said.

“I look forward to watching him take the next steps of his rugby league career.”

Justin Matamua in action.

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What was the feeling when you were selected into the New South Wales Under 19s Squad?

“When I heard my name, I was very excited. Very pumped up when I made it and thought of my family and how it’s honour to put on this jersey and just represent myself and my family. [I’m] so very excited to get out there and just play.”

What players have you learnt the most from?

“I was looking up to James Tamou, Zane Musgrove, Joel McHale and just those players around me. Obviously with Jimmy [James Tamou] just learning off him, just what he’s done for the game is amazing.”

Do you have any words of advice to kids growing up and wanting to represent their state in the future?

“Just putting in extra sessions… also just having a good crowd around you, a good set of friends [and] just out of trouble. If you surround yourself with good friends that support your goals and push you to do your best, you [can] go a very long way.”

The Under 19s State of Origin can be watched on Channel Nine on Thursday 23rd June. NRL is allowing schools and clubs to attend the game at Leichardt Oval for free in the general admission area. Kick off is at 7:45pm AEST.

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