Powerhouse prop ready to make mark with Capras
RUGBY LEAGUE: Standing 192cm tall and weighing in at 118kg, Matt Groat cuts an imposing figure.
The powerhouse prop, who has signed with the Rockhampton Leagues Club Capras for season 2017, has just arrived in the Beef Capital and he's a man on a mission.
"I want to be a dominant front rower,” he announced to local media today.
"I want to take the leadership role in an Intrust Super Cup team and go from there. The Capras have been great to me so they were first choice.
"We've got a great mixture of juniors to seniors; I just want to mix it up with them and hopefully we'll get somewhere next season.”
Groat has spent the past two seasons playing in England after debuting in the NRL for the Wests Tigers at the age of 19.
Capras coach Kim Williams labelled Groat his "marquee signing” at a press conference today where he announced two more additions to the Capras' roster for next year.
Gladstone product Sam Smith will return to the club after a season with the Brisbane Broncos NYC team, while promising young hooker/half Billy Gilbert makes the move north after spending 2016 with the Cronulla Sharks NYC squad.
Williams said Smith was a good signing for the Capras on a number of levels.
"I said for a few months now recruitment was targeted at getting some local players back and getting the pride back in the jersey that I think we've missed at times over the years,” he said.
"Sam played here in 2015 - he got half a dozen games with the Intrust Super Cup squad as a 19-year-old and then got picked up by the Brisbane Broncos and has spent the past 12 months in their system in the under-20s there.
"(He's) a guy I targeted deliberately, not just because he's from here but he's an outstanding athlete, probably one of the quickest in the competition.
"He's very tall and athletic so provides a really good target on the wing for our kicking game. He's genuinely quick and a very good finisher so I think we've put together a pretty strong backline and he'll add to that.”
Williams said he had been following the progress of Gilbert, a former NSW Country under-18 rep, for several years.
The coach revealed he was close to signing him last year before he was snapped up by Cronulla.
"I'm hoping he's learned a fair bit there (Cronulla) and he's certainly added to his frame. He was quite small but has bulked up and has shot up as well, quite tall now for a hooker.
"He's got some great attributes in his game, in particular his attack, and we'll just be helping him hopefully develop his career. He's certainly someone I see competing for a top 17 spot.”
Gilbert said he was ready to bring plenty of energy and enthusiasm to the Capras.
He said he had gleaned a lot of knowledge at Cronulla from coach John Morris.
Morris is a 300-game NRL veteran who played primarily at hooker and five-eighth.