Tigers to Tomahawks, Matterson returns for World Cup

WHEN Terry Matterson left Castleford Tigers two years ago, the affable Australian never expected to be returning as a World Cup coach. Especially not with USA.

However, that is the strange position he finds himself in after taking over from Tomahawks chief Brian Smith barely a fortnight ago.

“I didn’t think I’d be back this quick,” he told the Yorkshire Post.

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“Unfortunately, Brian couldn’t come. His son had just decided to get married – in two weeks’ time!

“My friendship with (ex-USA coach) Matthew Elliott saw me mentioned for this and thankfully my wife was pretty keen on me coming over too.

“I forgave some time with the kids in the off-season for what is a good opportunity.”

Matterson – who was Castleford coach for six years – is currently North Queensland Cowboys assistant in the NRL but has had little opportunity to get to know the USA squad.

“I did know a little bit because I’m mates with Matthew but not a large amount,” he said, having become their third coach in two months, after ex-Bradford Bulls chief Elliott stood down in August to concentrate on his New Zealand Warriors duties.

“I’ve been brought up to speed fairly quickly. It’s still fairly daunting. I didn’t really know any of the players and some of them didn’t even know each other at all before the France game.

“There’s been some challenges there, but they’ve been great.”

The France game he mentions was a stunning friendly win in Toulouse just 10 days ago.

Now the USA – who beat Jamaica to qualify for the tournament for the first time – are looking to back that up against Cook Islands at Bristol tonight.

“They were great in France and gave a really good performance against a good side,” he said, with many of his part-time players having to take unpaid holidays to make the cross-Atlantic trip.

“We know the challenge ahead is what it’s all about. A friendly is a friendly at the end of the day.

“But it gave them confidence as many had not played at that level before. We’ve got some experience to come n too for this one.”

Captain Joseph Paulo, the Parramatta Eels second-row, admitted: “People are now looking at us a bit differently.

“We are not just here to make up the numbers, we are here to compete. For sure we can do something at this tournament. We really want to and our motto is ‘shock the world’. We are just ready to do our thing when we can.”

Former Hull KR second-row Clint Newton, who was born in South Carolina while his golfing father Jack was taking part in the 1981 US Open, and Wigan’s new signing Eddy Pettybourne will make their Tomahawks debuts.

Matterson is also able to give a first cap to Wests Tigers hooker Joel Luani, while Wigan centre Anthony Gelling and Catalan Dragons forward Zeb Taia will line up for the Cook Islands.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats hooker Paul Aiton has been cleared to play in Papua New Guinea’s game against Samoa at Hull KR on Monday having had a one-match ban overturned last night.