Ryan Matterson joked and shook hands with Manly players at the back of the main grandstand at Brookvale late on Thursday – but you can only imagine the reception he would have received from his Parramatta teammates moments earlier when they trudged back into the dressing room after a third straight defeat.
Matterson stunned some observers late last year when he opted for a three-match suspension rather than a $4000 fine for his high shot on Dylan Edwards in the grand final.
The club farewelled hard-running forwards Isaiah Papali’i, Oregon Kaufusi and Marata Niukore in the off-season, and when Shaun Lane broke his jaw in the trials, the spotlight shone brighter on Matterson’s decision.
Matterson, who earns about $600,000 a year, would not comment when approached by the Herald on Thursday, but defended his decision at the time.
“If you do something wrong at work, they don’t take money off you,” he said. “I just feel $4000 is pretty hefty considering I have already paid nearly $4000 in fines already this year for things that are absurd.”
Coach Brad Arthur confirmed Matterson would be rushed back for Thursday’s grand final replay against Penrith. Bench forward Jack Murchie failed a head injury assessment, and becomes the first player under the game’s new concussion rules to sit out the next 11 days.
Ryan Matterson returns for Parramatta next Thursday.Credit:Getty Images
Former Panther J’maine Hopgood has worked hard at lock forward, and would relish a chance to get one up on his former mentor and No. 13 counterpart Isaah Yeo.
Matt Doorey and Bryce Cartwright have started in the back row for the Eels, but did not come close to having the same punch in attack and defence as Manly opposites Haumole Olakau’atu and Kelma Tuilagi. To make matters worse, Doorey is undergoing scans for a knee injury.
Eels players know Matterson needs to work overtime if they are any chance of salvaging their season. History suggests a loss to Penrith, and the Sydney Roosters in round five, will make it almost impossible for the Eels to clinch the premiership.
Eels legend Nathan Hindmarsh was thrifty during his playing days, but even he was stunned by Matterson’s decision to miss game time instead of paying a fine.
Parramatta crashed to their third straight loss on Thursday night.Credit:Getty Images
Hindmarsh also said the club could have done more to force the forward to rethink his decision, which he did later but his appeal was ignored by the NRL.
“I’m not saying ‘Matto’ would have made much of a difference in the first three rounds, but with the experience he has – he’s played representative football, and was playing good football last year – it’s disappointing as a fan of the club knowing he did what he did,” Hindmarsh told the Herald.
“At the end of the day, Matto is employed by the club. If I was the boss of Parra, I would have said, ‘Mate, you can pay it’. I don’t know why he didn’t pay it.
“If he was my teammate, I would have had the shits for sure. But none of my teammates would have done that.
“He’ll run out there next Thursday knowing the club are 0-3, but [he] can’t try and do everything to make up for what’s happened. Just having his experience will lift the players around him, and he will make them a better side.”
Mitchell Moses and Maika Sivo were fined $750 and $1800 for pulling the hair of Tuilagi and Christian Tuipulotu in Thursday’s game. Reagan Campbell-Gillard was also fined for a shoulder charge on Josh Aloiai.
Moses was seen hobbling out of Brookvale due to a cork above his left knee. He is in no danger of missing the CommBank Stadium clash against Penrith.
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