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How Peter Mata’utia and Owen Farrell’s new haircuts are raising funds

Peter Mata'utia

Castleford back Peter Mata’utia sporting his new look for charity

Ever heard of a hairdo so bad that it would likely be banned from the training ground?

If not, then check out Castleford Tigers’ Peter Mata’utia and his pink rat-tail.

With the Super League season paused and the United Kingdom in lockdown, it is the sort of DIY style that you hide behind closed doors… and from your coach.

“I get to try things that I wouldn’t normally try because I don’t think Powelly [Tigers head coach Daryl Powell] would be a fan of it,” Mata’utia told GoBonus Sport.

“It’s a good time to muck around with your hair, dye it or get the mohawk you always wanted as a kid.”

The Australia-born Samoa international says adding a splash of colour to his hair – which he describes as a “long mullet, ratty-type thing” – isn’t all just a style choice.

There is also a hugely important cause behind it as an ambassador for social care charity Community Integrated Care.

The 29-year-old is among a growing number of UK-based sports stars, including England rugby union captain Owen Farrell, to take up the #CareWithHair challenge, donating what money he would normally spend at the hairdressers to the social care provider instead.

With Mata’utia’s mother, Matalena, still working as a care home nurse in Australia, the cause is also a deeply personal one for the former St George Illawarra and Newcastle Knights player.

“I’ve always been proud of my mum,” the versatile back said.

“It’s tough right now but she enjoys working with older people, looking after them – she loves her job.

“She is determined to help out and do her part in this pandemic. Because of what my mum is doing, this cause means a lot to me.

“Getting and paying for a haircut is an everyday thing. This is just taking that money and putting it to something really important.

“It’s something you can have fun with. Pink is one of the colours of Community Integrate Care’s logo, so I thought it would help generate more attention.”

Mata’utia is an ambassador for social care charity, Community Integrated Care

Community Integrated Care – one of the UK’s biggest social care providers, supporting thousands of people with learning disabilities, dementia, autism and mental health concerns – says that £2m has been spent on personal protective equipment (PPE) in the six weeks since lockdown began to ensure the frontline services they deliver continue in these difficult circumstances.

The impact of Covid-19 on people in care homes has been hard to calculate, as there are more than 15,000 care homes in England alone, compared with about 200 hospital trusts.

But an estimated third of all coronavirus deaths are happening in care homes.

“Right now, our staff are helping people to cope with the anxiety and disruption that self-isolation causes, wear PPE and protect the people they support, and in some cases face up to the devastating impact of an outbreak,” John Hughes, the charity’s director of partnerships and communities, said.

“When you’re spending so much on the essentials, it becomes even more challenging to fund the important things that also make a huge difference.

“Every penny raised by the #CareWithHair challenge will fund vital assistance for our carers and frontline care services.

“For the people we support, that will include purchasing items that will bring them comfort and joy – from technology to stay in touch with families, through to games and activities, or even projectors, so people receiving end-of-life care can be comforted watching the things that are important to them.”

Having Mata’utia sport a gnarly do is an extension of his and rugby league’s involvement in the charity, which last year saw Super League and Community Integrated Care form a “ground-breaking” learning disability competition.

England and Saracens fly-half Owen Farrell with his new haircut

The fundraising cause has also transcended rugby codes, with England and Saracens fly-half Farrell sporting a lockdown crew cut.

The 28-year-old was nominated to chop his locks by former Great Britain prop and rugby league commentator Terry O’Connor.

As someone who played with the England and Saracens star’s father, Andy – who is now head coach of Ireland – at Wigan, O’Connor says the short back and sides is a far cry from a long forgotten style the fly-half once sported.

“I have actually seen Owen with a mullet when he was a kid,” O’Connor said with a laugh.

“His dad has that horrific beard – black with streaks of grey in it – now and I keep asking when he is going to trim it. I couldn’t nominate him for this because he’s not on social media, but it is ridiculous.

“I’ve been looking like Captain Caveman myself, so getting the hair chopped at home without losing any part of my ears or skin was a bit of fun.

“Everyone needs a haircut and this is one that can really help at what is a tough time during this horrible pandemic. This is a simple way for everyone to make a big difference right now, and I hope that supporters of all sports get involved.”

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