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Team Guy Ikuvalu Taking Advantage Of "Next Man Up" Mentality

It's hard to put into words exactly what it means to be a team guy, but if you had to pick the kind of guys willing to do whatever is needed for their team, you'd point directly at Matt Ikuvalu.

Ikuvalu was a late inclusion to the Round 1 squad, but was given an opportunity to kick off the season with his NRL teammates and definitely did not disappoint. 

He received high praise from Head Coach Trent Robinson in the post match press conference, while Assistant Coach Matt King called him out in the Round 2 Team Talk for being a great guy and teammate. 

Round 2 Team Talk with Matt King

When asked about his inclusion in the 17-man squad, Ikuvalu had a smile from ear-to-ear as he recalled his first NRL action of the young season. 

"It was awesome," Ikuvalu said when recalling his Round 1 opportunity.

"I played ten games last year, but was in an out of the squad.

"This year I wanted to work hard and get that Round 1 spot, and I’m lucky I got it."

Ikuvalu awaiting kick off in Round 1.
Ikuvalu awaiting kick off in Round 1.

While the Roosters didn't get the result in Round 1 against the Penrith Panthers, there were some positives to take from the match. 

When recalling the performance in the post match press conference, Head Coach Trent Robinson said he thinks Ikuvalu was the Roosters best on field

Ikuvalu is a humble man, but couldn't help showing his excitement upon learning the news that his coach had offered him such high praise. 

"I actually didn’t know that he said that, but hearing it now is awesome.

"You don’t hear that every day from such a great coach, so hearing it now is a good feeling.

"I’ve got to take some confidence out of that game, the words that Robbo's said and push it forward into this week."

Ikuvalu dummies and takes on the line at the Roosters Captain's Run ahead of Round 1.
Ikuvalu dummies and takes on the line at the Roosters Captain's Run ahead of Round 1.

He had his own thoughts when recalling our Round 1 match and is determined to take the positives and improve.

"I thought we were powerful through the middle, which is the Roosters style of footy.

"The style was us, but then we went away from it and that steered us away from the win.

"We'll need to get better this week.

"For me, I need to run as hard as I can as many times as I can and get us quick play-the-balls.

"When that high ball comes at me, I need to catch it.

"I'm making sure my health is good, then it’ll be knuckling down, putting my best foot forward and doing whatever I have to do for this team."

Matt Ikuvalu trains in the heavy rain.
Matt Ikuvalu trains in the heavy rain.

Ikuvalu has been cleared of serious injury and was given the green light to return to the field in Round 2 after being taken from the field late in Round 1. 

He's taken all necessary precautions to ensure he's 100% right to play, as the task doesn't get any easier on Saturday. 

An intriguing talking point for the Roosters this week is that they'll set foot on the paddock of Leichhardt Oval for their first NRL game since 2012.

Despite that though, it's a ground that the team is more than familiar with. 

"We’ve done a lot of sessions at Leichhardt.

"Especially in 2019, we treated it a bit like a home away from home.

"We did a lot of our D2 sessions there, but we’ve never played a game.

"We’ll treat it like any other game on Saturday, we’ll be ready to go and give 100%."

There's a "next man up" mentality at the Sydney Roosters, which means when a player is unavailable or unable to do a job, the man that takes his place is always up to the task. 

When asked about being given another opportunity in Round 2, Ikuvalu offered his thoughts with a look of focus. 

"I actually can’t wait.

On top of the game I just had, I’m going to push forward, take the learnings from that game and go again this week

Matt Ikuvalu