Castleford Tigers star opens up on prison life, work as a driver and journey to becoming a Super League player

SOME rugby league players grow up playing the sport and being involved from a very early age.

Others, however, sometimes go down a completely different path to get to where they are today.

One of those is Castleford Tigers forward Suaia Matagi who has always been open about how he got involved in rugby league and what path he steered away from.

“I only started when I was 19, I set out the goal to become a professional and follow my dream. I wanted to try to live my dream and live life with no regrets,” Matagi told the Castleford Tigers website.

“The dream for me came back when I was working full time, a delivery driver at that time with twelve-hour shifts and I had time to think and ponder. I thought ‘in five, ten years’ time from now… what if?’ one of those moments.

“I didn’t want to have the price of regret. I started thinking, ‘let’s go all out’ and deal with my stuff as well, I’d rather go all out and not achieve what I set out to and give it my all and give myself the opportunity.”

Matagi went down the path of becoming a professional sportsman after serving time in prison for an assault, but he knows how he went wrong early in his life.

“I knew that I owed it to myself, but to my family as well given what I put them through, and I wanted to repay them and make something of myself. Being a young father, I wanted to show my daughter the importance of resilience, that even though I dropped the ball in life at that time, I was going to pick it up and run again. That was the mindset.

“I started to also think of other kids and inspire them to let them know that regardless of how you did wrong, you can make something of yourself and channel that energy into something positive.

“When you come from nothing and there is nothing for us, you might get labelled and for me, it was taking ownership of where I was and being accountable. I was labelled a criminal and it was something I could not change, but what I could was the second half of my life and what happens going forward and that is where the mindset started to change.”