Here's what Men's 7s Captain Jake Letts had to say about him:
Joe Matthews is awesome..... in all facets!!! Top bloke, top player, great company all 'round legend. So glad to have him on our side!
His epic (EPIC!!!) performance in Borneo made him a natural choice as the first player to be interviewed in this blog. So here's Joe, in his own words.
Congratulations on your stellar showing in Borneo. How did it feel to debut as a Philippine Volcano?
Thank you! Until I arrived at training camp in Manila and met the Team I didn't fully understand just how fulfilling this experience was going to be. My debut against Japan in our first pool match was extremely exciting, I felt a real passion for my country and at home playing rugby again after boxing for the last 2 years. It is a great honour to represent my country and the magnitude of the occasion was not lost on me.
You scored that try vs China in extra time that brought us to the Cup Final. How did that feel? Care to take us through it?
The feeling in this situation is hard to describe, its a mixture of elation, relief, and humility - that you were privileged enough to be in this position at all. I have to point out that we would not have even gone into extra time if it wasn't for Andrew Wolff. It was late in the second half and the Chinese winger made a break (if he was to score the match would have been over and we would have been playing Hong Kong for third position) and from nowhere Andrew made a tackle on him just meters from the line to push the match into extra time. This last ditch effort from Andrew displays a never say die attitude and really shows what the Philippine Volcanoes are all about.
Wollfie's part in this story is not over, in extra time he made a pass to me which put me on the outside of a Chinese defender, I put a kick though, Wolffie regained the ball and took out a Chinese defender then passed me the ball. From there I just put the ball over the line and celebrated. It was his try assist and teamwork that helped to create a little bit of Philippine Rugby history!
When you have a challenge to overcome its done much easier as a Team we all understand that. Although every player within the Volcanoes squad has their own personal goals to achieve, we knew if we did our jobs right each players efforts would come together to achieve the overall Team goal which was to finish in the top 6, we finished 2nd! All of the Team and management made me feel at home immediately so fitting in wasn't a challenge. The group are an intelligent bunch of men, good listeners and for the most part excellent communicators. The key to getting along and bonding is communication, 80% listening 20% talking.
Refreshing, I guess unless you were a person of mixed blood this may be hard to understand. But if you look at this objectively, the majority of us grew up in a country outside of our motherland (the Philippines) and in most cases we were viewed as foreigners in the places we grew up. Many of us had to work that much harder to prove ourselves and be accepted, and for most of us, Rugby was the avenue for this.
So if you take a group of men all of whom have had similar experiences growing up and put them together then they are going to have a lot in common. Hence the reason our bond is strong. Many of the guys have gone through some tough times being a 'halfie' growing up so now as men are mentally very tough - this mental toughness put into a Team environment is a great recipe for success.
Luke (Joe's younger brother who made his debut with the Volcanoes in early 2011) told us that your mum cried when she found out he was going to play for the Philippines this past April. How does she feel now that she has 2 sons on the team?
Our mother Leila, is an inspirational woman and we draw much strength from her life story. She is a proud, strong, Filipino woman and we are blessed to have her in our lives. Mum is a huge Rugby fan and knows more about rugby than many of the players do, so for her to have her sons playing for the Philippines is one of the happiest moments in her life. Our youngest brother Daniel is coming to Manila in December to represent the U20's Volcanoes Team as well - it would be a dream for the three of us to take the field for the Philippines together.
I think our mum's advice to the Team would be: Regardless of the result, if you gave it everything you've got - 100% of your effort, then you can hold your head up proud.
Best thing about going to battle with Luke is that it drives me to play harder, its a powerful motivator to compete against another Team and know that your family has your back. There isn't a worst thing, its all a learning experience!
Who did you room with in Manila & Kota Kinabalu? Tell us something about your roommates.
I roomed with Luke in Manilla - he'd kill me if the girls knew what I know about him! Just joking Lukey.
In Kota Kinabalu, I first roomed with Chris 'Evro' Everingham - what's interesting about Evro is that not only is he a Personal Trainer, Dietician, and devoted family man - but he's also a fantastic break dancer! He's a super nice guy and has a deep understanding of human nature and a very inquisitive mind which makes for some good conversation.
My second roommate in KK was Andrew 'Schweet man' Wolff. Wolffie is an intelligent and funny man, in a lot of instances we shared very similar humor. What I know about Wolffie is that in the moment that counted the most on the Rugby field he was there and he made his involvements count in a big way - this says much about a man.
What's your life like outside or Rugby?
I'm married to Kristie and we have a beautiful son Kaleb Ray Joseph Matthews. My wife is a kickboxer and personal trainer! Oh, and we have an American Pitbull Terrier named Bruno. We live in Canberra which is the National Capital of Australia. I have a strength and conditioning gym called A.C.T. Barbell and we assist in preparing athletes for competition. We work with athletes who play tennis, soccer, rugby, who compete in mixed martial arts, boxing, freestyle wrestling, powerlifting and strongman!
I also lecture for an organisation called the Australian Institute of Fitness, here I educate on topics like anatomy and physiology, exercise science, programming for strength and conditioning, nutrition, and personal training. Favorite hobbies are training, fishing (love it!), and chilling out with my family
What would you like to tell your teammates?
Think of something that you have achieved in your life, something that you are genuinely proud of, something worth talking about. Now I bet you that this didn't come without hard work, sacrifice, and a fight! This is the Pinoy way.
I look forward to earning more of these proud moments with you guys in the future. Miss you all and look forward to the next time we meet.
Any message for your supporters?
I suppose the cliche thing to say would be thank you, salamat! But what I also want to say is - hang in there guys and girls, you are pioneers for the sport of Rugby here in the Philippines. As we work together to grow the success of the Volcanoes on and off the field, we need, appreciate and highly value your support. In the end its the supporters and fans that make the game of Rugby - so we do it for you and we cannot do it without you!
My dream is to play a test match for the Volcanoes in the Philippines in front of a loud and proud home crowd - I hope to see you there.
-- Joe 'Pinoy Express' Matthews, Philippine Volcano