Masi Matongo explains how he got involved with rugby league and where it all started in the local community in our latest Back To My Roots feature.
Matongo was a latecomer to the sport, but he has proved that athletic ability is the most important attribute in rugby league.
Matongo, who didn’t take up rugby league until the age of 15, told hullfc.com of his pilgrimage from Zimbabwe to Hull, via Kent.
“I lived in Zimbabwe until I was five and then moved to Chatham in Kent for a few years, before eventually ending up in Hull when I was nine,” Matongo explained.
“Jack Logan introduced me to rugby league, but I didn’t actually start playing it until I was 15 because I was more interested in playing football!
“I remember playing a few games for Kelvin Hall School in Year 10 and 11 and that’s when I first started out.”
In the same year, Matongo recalls joining forces with local club Hull Wyke, who he played for until the age of 17.
Enjoying his rugby, the 24-year-old joined community club West Hull to play in the summer league.
Matongo explains how he re-transitioned back into the winter leagues, where he was given a baptism of fire in open age rugby.
“I went to Norland Sharks in Hessle when I was 18 and a few of my friends from West Hull came along with me,” Matongo said.
“It was a massive transition because it was so much different at open age from my experiences at West Hull and Hull Wyke.
“The physicality was just so much more intense and it was a massive surprise for me.”
Little did Matongo know that less than a year later he would swap the Hessle playing fields for the DW Stadium, where he made his Hull FC debut against one of the sport’s most decorated sides.
In 2015, the Zimbabwean native lined up against Wigan Warriors amongst a number of fellow academy men.
Matongo, who has played almost a half-century of matches of Hull FC, confesses he was still adapting to rugby league at this point in his career.
“For me personally, it was an absolute dream come true and it was a massive moment in my career, playing Super League only three years after I picked up a ball first,” he said.
“I was so nervous, but it was amazing to hear all of the fans chanting my name!
“I’ve got to admit, I never really knew that Wigan were as big of a side as they are. I’d only really heard of Leeds, so that shows how much I was still adapting.”