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'I've got more to prove': The motivator that inspired Mato's award-winning season

Shannon Mato has well and truly achieved her goal to redeem last season's heartbreak.

Announced as the 2022 NRLW Player of the Year, the barnstorming forward had plenty of personal motivation to redeem having to watch from the grandstands for a majority of the club's inaugural season after a serious knee injury sidelined the 24-year-old after only two games.

"I certainly wasn't expecting it (being announced the player of the year)," Mato said.

"I got a bit emotional, like I like look back at my journey... coming back from injury, and then re-signing. It was hard because I felt like everyone only looks back at that last season and I thought that I've got more to prove.

"I signed with the Titans again for redemption and I was just happy that I made it through the season.

I'm just very fortunate and honoured to receive this award."

Thinking the top gong was going to fellow forward Georgia Hale after her defensively-charged season - including a groundbreaking average of 44 tackles per game at an incredible 98 percent - it came as quite a shock for Mato to hear her name announced at the end of the night, considering she looks up to the inspirational Titans lock.

"I've trained next to Georgia and she's probably the one that keeps me on my toes," the Gold Coast front rower admitted.

"Every training, she's consistent and she never misses a heartbeat or anything, like meetings or rehab or on field at training. She always takes me by surprise and is someone who really has a big impact on me.

"She's not even trying to do it to like show face or impress.... That's just how she does things. She follows her process and it like pays off in the end.

"It shows with her stats and everything and just her as a player off the field as well, she's incredible and I'm really grateful to have someone like Georgia."

It was also a special moment to share the personal honour with her mum, given the resilient journey her and her family have encountered whilst growing up.

"My father actually passed away when I was like four years old and my mother raised five of us kids on our own. So, I've always had that mindset to be like... go and get what you want and make my mum proud. She was always there and I can't imagine raising five kids alone," Mato said.

"She's never been anything like this and to bring her here tonight (to the Paul Broughton Medal), I'm just so grateful.

"She said this is actually really cool to be a part of and she's so proud of me. She's actually made the effort to learn rugby league and understand my position and I just feel grateful that she's next to me and my father is looking down from heaven.

"I wish my brother was here too because he's been my father figure since I was younger, so that bond has always been special."

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.