Coming off the back of his best season to date, Matt Ikuvalu is determined to break his way into the Roosters backline in 2021 - starting off with the Club's Round 1 match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Scoring seven times in ten matches in 2020 - including a five-try haul against the North Queensland Cowboys which saw him become the first Rooster in 65 years to achieve such a feat - Ikuvalu is primed to challenge the likes of Daniel Tupou, Joseph Manu and the Morris brothers for a spot in the side's electric backline.
In a bid to play on a more consistent, full-time basis in 2021, the 27-year-old says he is absorbing as much knowledge as possible from his more experienced teammates.
“If I get a shot in the first seventeen, I’m going to do my best to keep it and not let my teammates down," Ikuvalu said.
Knowing Round 1 is going to be there, it will be massive for us as a team to put a stake in the ground and say ‘we aren’t going to lose here’. We’ll definitely be looking to do that.Matt Ikuvalu On playing at the Sydney Cricket Ground
“It’s amazing being in this squad, I'm gaining a lot of knowledge from the Morris boys and Toops (Daniel Tupou).
"Being a fellow Tongan, I really enjoy playing alongside him and was happy to do so at centre in the trial (against the Raiders). That was a pretty surreal feeling going shoulder-to-shoulder with him.
“Even Joey Manu has been helping me a lot. He’s a young fella - even younger than me - but he’s got a lot of knowledge. I’m looking to get what I can from each player and bring it to my game.”
Reflex Reliable Moment | July
As the Roosters enter the final stages of their pre-season, Ikuvalu is relishing the idea of kicking off the season at the Sydney Cricket Ground - a venue the Club has won 14 of their last 18 matches at - and is intent on turning it into a fortress where Members and supporters can witness the best of the Red, White and Blue week in, week out.
“It’s amazing,” he said of the revered SCG.
“Even playing there last year I was pretty honoured to even get a game at the SCG. Knowing Round 1 is going to be there, it will be massive for us as a team to put a stake in the ground and say ‘we aren’t going to lose here’. We’ll definitely be looking to continue our record there.
“Get around us. Celebrate the start of the season with us. We’ll be going out with the intent of putting on a show for the Members and fans and do our best to win."
With last week's trial done and dusted, the hulking outside back says he was happy to finally return the field alongside his teammates after a long pre-season and praised his side's tenacity during a tough first-half period.
“It was good to blow some cobwebs off and get some game time. I definitely felt it in the lungs, but it was good to get it under our belts," he said.
“The biggest opportunity to improve our defence was to come out in that second half. It wasn’t where we wanted it to be, but in the second half, we really grew as a team.
"We knew what we wanted to do in attack so that just flowed into our defence.
"That was the most impressive part for me."