One player who was close to retirement before being inspired back to the sport by Leigh Centurions is utility back Peter Mata’utia.
The former Newcastle Knights player had his desire for rugby league re-lit after admitting he was close to shutting the door on rugby league altogether.
The Challenge Cup experience is like no other in the world of sport, and the 27-year-old admits the concept would be a thrilling one across the globe.
The NRL currently has 16 teams competing in the league, with 25 rounds of compelling rugby league before the qualifying, eliminations and the finals. However, Mata’utia believes the Challenge Cup competition wouldn’t ‘work’.
“It would be a very exciting concept in the NRL” said the Leigh player.
“I told my brothers how it works and the first thing they said was imagine if an amateur team beat a Super League team.
“But it wouldn’t work at the moment with every NRL team having a reserve grade side. They don’t have a competition like the Championship.”
Mata’utia has featured in all-but one game for Leigh this year, including a stint at fullback in their fifth-round win over London Broncos, which was his first experience in the cup.
The former Samoan international admits he had seen it at home but being involved was a unique experience.
“The boys just explained how it all works, and I had always seen it back home when teams won. I just didn’t know how it actually worked,” he said.
“I believe we can go through to the next round. I’m out here to try to take this team as close as we can to the finals but it’s going to take everything we have.”
On his first experience in the cup, he added: “It was a great experience.
“The game was tough and fun, our fans got right behind us and it was loud.”
Leigh Centurions will play hosts to Ian Watson’s Salford, who currently 8th in the Super League table. In the same fixture in 2015 (but round four) Leigh came out on top 22-18 at the Leigh Sports Village, and a repeat of that would prove Leigh are prepared for life back at the top flight.
“It’s going to be a fun game,” said Mata’utia
“We are all very excited to play a Super League team, especially at home.
“We know this result won’t help us in Championship points, but it will be good for the boys to see where they are at as individuals and hopefully take what we get out of it back to championship.”