Souths coach Wayne Bennett was happy to give the youngster his first start. “I’m as pleased as the family are,” he said. “Jack has earned his position by his commitment to his training and developing himself.”
Jack was one of the smallest players coming through the grades and only started to bulk up in his late teens. He was axed by the Manly Holden Cup team a few years ago and spent a season playing for the Peninsula Seagulls, who were coached by Penrith great Craig Gower. It gave him a crash-course on how to cope with the physicality of playing against men.
He still lives at the family home on the northern beaches.
Jack’s younger brother Cooper plays with the Melbourne Storm and is also expected to push for an NRL debut in the coming weeks.
Before Jack debuted for Italy at the 2017 World Cup – as a playmaker – he quipped his father was not even the funniest member of the family, and had made a point of not getting involved in his league development.
“My younger brother Cooper is actually funnier than Dad,” Jack said at the time. “Dad’s funny, I’ll give him credit, but him and my brother will sit around taking the piss out of everything and themselves. I’m not funny. They take the piss out of me. It’s like I’m the youngest brother.”
It is fitting Jack’s first game is against the Raiders and coach Ricky Stuart. Matty has spoken before about how he and Andrew were in awe of Stuart during their playing days.
Some at Souths initially wondered if Jack would pursue a career in music rather than league.
Matty once joked on his podcast how he had corrupted his son’s musical tastes, which angered his teammates.
“When Jack used to catch the under-20s bus when playing with Newcastle, they’d take turns playing music and they’d all whinge when it was Jack’s turn because he’d go with Creedence [Clearwater Revival], the Rolling Stones and the Beatles,” Matty said.
In other team news, Ethan Lowe is out due to a recurring neck injury, James Roberts will have pectoral surgery on Wednesday and Tom Burgess brings up his 150th NRL game.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.