HEAVYWEIGHT prop Sam Mataora hopes Newcastle Knights fans will be seeing a lot less of him this season.

Nine kilograms less, to be precise.

In preparation for the NRL’sinterchange reductionthisseason from 10 to eight, Mataora was advised to shed weight.

Working closely with Knights nutritionistRachelSvenson,Mataora has downsizedfrom 117kgto 108kg.

“There’s only eight interchanges next year, so I’ve got to be a lot fitter and more agile,’’ Mataora told the Newcastle Herald.“The coaching staff gave me some goals atthe start of pre-season, and I’ve been able to drop someweight.Now I just have to maintain it.’’

Mataora said his new-found dietary disciplinewas initially“a bit of an adjustment”but he had gradually embraced it.

“It’s justknowing what foods to eat at the right time,’’ he said. “Less takeaway, more cooking at home.That’s pretty much it. I’m feeling heaps better for it.

“It’s become a routine. At first I was struggling, but I’m used to it now. It feels like normal now.’’

Even over the Christmas-New Year break, the 25-year-old did not allow his resolve to weaken.

“I followed the program they gave us.I just kept ticking the boxes, every day,’’ he said.

The Cook Islands international hopes his new slim-line physique will allow him to nail down a regular first-grade position, having made nine appearances last season, all off the bench.

“In 2014, I didn’t play a game in the NRL, so I was pretty gutted,’’ he said.

“Just to get my foot back in the door last year was awesome, and this year I’m looking to build on it.I just have to prove myself in the trials, and if I get a spot for round one, that would be good.’’

Mataora appeared a rising star when he made his NRL debut for Canberra in 2010as a 19-year-old.

He played another 32 games for the Raiders in the next threeseasons, but after the arrival of new coach Ricky Stuart he found himself on the outer.

In an interview 12 months ago, he admitted he was “wasting my time inCanberra”, which prompted to accept a lifeline from the Knights midway through 2014.At the end of that season, he re-signed with Newcastle for three more years, knocking back an offerto followmaster coach Wayne Bennett to Brisbane.

SHAPING UP: Knights prop Sam Mata’ora. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

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