Utai in 2013
|Full name||Matthew Okeuy Utai|
25 May 1981 |
Auckland, New Zealand
|Height||168 cm (5 ft 6 in)|
|Weight||103 kg (16 st 3 lb)|
|Source: League Central, Rugby League Project|
Matthew Utai (born 25 May 1981 in Auckland, New Zealand) is a professional rugby league footballer. A New Zealand and Samoa international representative three-quarter back, he previously played for the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, with whom he won the 2004 NRL premiership and the Wests Tigers.
Utai was a Berala Bears junior and came through the development squads at the Canterbury Bulldogs. In 2000, Utai started the year in Jersey Flegg, but his form warranted promotion to the Reserve Grade side and he played in 16 matches including scoring two tries in the Grand Final victory.
Making his NRL debut in 2002 season, he scored 13 tries in 21 appearances and played in only 2 losses all year. However, the club did not play in the semis because of salary cap breaches. He was named the Dally M Rookie of the Year. In 2003, he scored 21 tries in 27 games, including scoring triples in three consecutive games.
Near the end of 2004, Utai scored 11 tries in the space of 7 games. He was a member of the Bulldogs' Premiership-winning team, playing in the 2004 NRL grand final on the wing in their 16–13 win over Sydney Roosters, scoring two tries in the match.
In 2009 Utai spent most of the season playing for the Bankstown City side in the NSW Cup. He became the only Bulldogs player to win five premierships across all grades when Bankstown City won the grand final that year.
He originally signed the Crusaders Super League club for 2010 but failed to recover from a knee injury. Instead Utai joined NSW Country Rugby League Club, Young in Group 9. Utai was then released from Young and joined the Auburn Warriors. He would have signed with the Wests Tigers but Welsh Super League club Crusaders demanded a compensation fee of $130,000.
Utai joined the Wests Tigers in 2011, making his first appearance in the first round of the season. He was a regular on the wing throughout the season, and was re-signed for 2012, and signed a one-year extension in October 2012.
Utai is of Samoan descent and made himself available for Samoa's 2008 Rugby League World Cup campaign. He was named in the Samoa squad, and went on to score two tries in his three appearances on the wing.
- First Grade Debut: 2002 - Round 4, Bulldogs vs South Sydney Rabbitohs at Aussie Stadium, 5 April.
- Premierships: 2004 - Bulldogs vs Sydney Roosters.
- Representative Selection: 2002 - New Zealand vs Australia, Wellington, New Zealand, scoring one try.
- Awards: 2002 - Dally M Rookie of the Year.
- UTAI, MATTHEW OKEUY 2002 - 2005 - KIWI #694 nzleague.co.nz
- Matt Utai Tribute rleague.com, 10 October 2009
- "Dally M Rookie Of The Year". rugby league project. Retrieved 21 April 2012.
- "Brian Noble snaps up Matt Utai for Crusaders - Mirror Online". Mirror.co.uk. 2009-11-21. Retrieved 2013-09-08.
- "Clock ticking for Crusaders". Sky Sports.
- "Matt Utai signs with Wests Tigers for one more year". Daily Telegraph (Sydney). 1 December 2011. Retrieved 3 January 2012.
- Adrian Proszenko (7 October 2012). "Eels poised to do some hard time". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
- "Mateo forced to declare his allegiance". LeagueHQ. 2008-04-30. Archived from the original on May 2, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
- "Samoa name World Cup Squad". League Unlimited. 2008-08-05. Retrieved 2008-08-06.
- "Samoa, Tonga and Fiji name squads". BBC. 2008-10-08. Retrieved 2008-10-09.