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He's Got My Back, I've Got His | The Mattersons

It’s almost an Australian right of passage for siblings to grow up together watching their favourite sports stars on tv.

It also often results in tough backyard matches trying to emulate the heroes in dreams of making the big stage one day.

Tonight that dream will become a reality for Ryan and Dean Matterson when they both don the tricolours for the Sydney Roosters opening trial match against the Penrith Panthers.

The last time the brothers took the field together was in 2012 when they represented St Paul's Greystanes in a school knock-out carnival.

Ryan was in year 12 and Dean was in year 9.

The dream of playing first grade together was alive even back then according to Ryan.

“We’ve always said we wanted to play first grade together, and even though this is a trial match we feel like this is the first step in hopefully a long path together.

“We’re very excited to play tonight, we can’t wait.

“Mum and dad are coming and are happy we’ll be out there together.

“They’ve always enjoyed watching us play since we were kids.”

Rugby league has been a constant thread in the Matterson family, with father Paul and uncle Terry both having played first grade rugby league.

“Footy is our life, we’d always watch the NRL together and say I want to do that,” Ryan said.

“The hunger and desire has been there from the beginning because we’ve grown up watching family play.

“There’s been a motivation to do the family proud.”

The brothers recalled their first footy memories growing up in Greenacre in Sydney.

“We were never allowed to play footy in the house,” Ryan recalled.

“When mum and dad would go out, nan would come over and baby sit us.

“We’d put down a blanket in the loungeroom and play knee footy for hours and she’d let us get away with it.”

“We were very competitive then, we still are in so many ways,” Dean added.

When asked what they admire in each other, the Matterson brothers are not shy in singing each others praises.

Ryan’s pride in his younger brother shows on his face when he speaks.

“I admire his toughness, he wont back down from any situation and he always takes the bull by the horns, that’s the reason he’s got this far.

“I know he’ll have my back and I’ve got his, I know that 100%.”

Dean has the pride that most younger brothers do for their elder sibling.

“I admire his resilience,” he said.

“He started at a low level, and adversity has hit him so many times, but he keeps bouncing back and getting better.

“I’m proud of where he is now and feed off that energy as much as I can.”

Dean sites Ryan’s first grade debut for the Roosters as his proudest moment for Ryan.

It was two years ago when Ryan ran out for the Roosters in the annual Anzac Day match against the Dragons.

“It was just an emotional day, the atmosphere was unbelievable.

“It was a very special occasion for us, especially our parents,” Dean recalled.

“The Roosters organised a box so the whole family came to watch Ryan play, it was awesome to watch his dream come true.”

Ryan remembered the day well.

“I was so happy to have my family there, to have Dean come down to the sheds after the match to meet all the boys and witness the great club culture.

“It was a great feeling and something I’ll never forget.”

It’s this early exposure to the Roosters club culture that has helped Dean in his transition to the first grade training squad.

“It’s just been a progression, I got to know the boys week in and week out, coming into the sheds after Ryan’s games.

“Now I’m training with the squad and it feels like I've known the boys for ages which helps.”

“It’s surreal that these guys have played first grade for years, these are the type of people I look up to, it's just amazing to be a part of.”

Dean said that training alongside his heroes has seen his skills progress in leaps and bounds.

“I’ve learnt the most I’ve ever learnt in just 15 weeks of preseason training.

“Whether it be from the coaches, the players, or of course Ryan, they’ve all helped me so much, both with the little things and big things.”

It’s not just the footy field where Ryan is trying to guide Dean, with the younger brother moving in to big brother’s house at the start of the year.

“He does nothing, I’m trying to teach him some life skills,” Ryan laughed.

“I’m genuinely trying to think what he does around the house, he plays a lot of playstation and he’s also got the messiest room in the house.”

Dean protests these claims and says he does the cleaning and washing up.

“Now that we live together we’re spending all day and all night together, so we’re constantly in each other pockets, so of course there’s a bit of rumbling going on sometimes,” Ryan continued.

“We do have rows, but they are never physical because I promised mum that I wouldn’t lay a hand on him,” he laughed.

The brothers agree that there’s a maturity in their relationship now, and they’ve built a stronger bound through good communication and honesty.

“Ryans always got my back,” Dean said.

“But on the other hand he’s also my harshest critic, so if I’m doing something wrong he’ll the first one to tell me pull my head in.”

Ryan takes his role as older brother seriously.

“At times I might be really blunt with him, but that’s because I want him to be the best and I know what he’s capable of.

“I just want him to learn as quickly as possible,” he said.

“If I am short with him I make sure he understands that there’s a reason why.”

Dean more than welcomes this advice from his his seasoned older brother.

“It’s good to hear these things from my big brother, it means way more coming from him, and he knows he can be 100% honest with me.”

Dean said all the hardships are worth it though, because their dream is starting to take shape.

“I’ve trained this whole preseason with him, and I only just got that really exciting feeling the other day when I was told I’d be playing in the Panthers trial.

“Its all come around so fast, I’m actually playing with my brother, I’m doing it.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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