Head coach Matthew Elliott has called him in to become Vodafone Warrior No 181, replacing veteran Sam Rapira in the Vodafone Warriors first home match ever played outside Auckland.
Rapira was originally named to play but hes still troubled by the hand injury which kept him off the field after his 24-minute opening stint against Gold Coast last Sunday.
Matagi earns his call-up after impressing coaching staff throughout the offseason, in the preseason trials and especially with his form for the Auckland Vulcans in the New South Wales Cup.
Given an offseason trial, he excelled earning a fulltime, one-year contract with the NRL squad just before the NRL season started.
A Te Atatu junior, Matagi later switched to Mount Albert and had an exceptional year at all levels in 2012, earning the accolade as the New Zealand Rugby Leagues domestic player of the year.
Hes named on the bench, resulting in Wellingtons own Ben Matulino going into the starting line-up on a night when hell play in front of a big group of family and friends. His propping partner in the opening stanza will be Russell Packer from the lower North Island town of Foxton. He too will have plenty of hometown support in the crowd.
Theres also a change to the centres in the starting line-up. After being included in the original line-up, Konrad Hurrell comes out of the side with Carlos Tuimavave - used five times in the NRL last year brought in for his first appearance of the year.
Tonights match has special significance for three members of the Vodafone Warriors coaching staff. Elliott was at the helm when Canberra beat the Vodafone Warriors in a one-off home game for the Raiders at Westpac Stadium in 2003. Canberra won 18-10 that night with Ruben Wiki scoring the match-sealing try. Hes now the Vodafone Warriors strength and conditioning coach while another member of Canberras staff in the 2003 win was Carl Jennings, the Vodafone Warriors head strength and conditioning coach.
VODAFONE WARRIORS v CANTERBURY-BANKSTOWN BULLDOGS
Westpac Stadium, Wellington
7.35pm, Saturday, May 11
Referees: Adam Devcich and Chris James
12SIMON MANNERING (c)
HEAD COACH: MATTHEW ELLIOTT