The prop who makes his own pasta

It is a special kind of NRL player that when you ask if linguini or fettucine is his favourite pasta, he answers "pappardelle".

And this NRL player knows his pasta – because he makes it fresh in his own kitchen… prepares it, rolls it, cuts it, and then dries the strips off the back of his dining room chairs.

He invites his teammates and their partners over for his home-cooked fare.

Welcome to the world of Cowboys, former Queensland and Australian front-rower Matt Scott.

Props don't instantly spring to mind as the type to wear an apron, or push a supermarket trolley around to find the right ingredients.

"Look I don't do much cooking at the moment with a couple of kids in tow but I've always loved it, always really enjoy it," Scott told NRL.com.

"I used to have JT [Johnathan Thurston] and the boys over quite regularly. If I get the time I still like to make my pasta dishes or something else, usually surrounding meat."

That's more like it. The boy who hails from Ilfracombe, near Longreach in central western Queensland, knows his way around a cow, sheep or pig.

Matt Scott in action for Australia in 2011.
Matt Scott in action for Australia in 2011. ©NRL Photos

"'Chef' would be a very loose term for it but I really enjoy cooking.

"I love slow-cooked meat, or meat barbecued over charcoal, or pasta. Most meals I make are based around a cut of meat. I love lamb shanks, lamb shoulder, rump steaks."

The joy of cooking didn't spring from the Scott household.

"I do love food but it wasn't so much from family. Being from the country we had the basic meat and vegetable meals at home," he said.

"When I moved away from the family the food I made myself was also pretty basic and not very tasty for the first couple of years.

"So I started experimenting, watched a fair few cooking shows, picked up some tips and away I went. I still talk to butchers, watch their videos, read their recipes…"

And away Scott goes from rugby league at the end of the season. He announced his retirement two weeks ago.

Few realised Thursday night's 28-4 loss to Wests Tigers at Leichhardt Oval was Scott's last game in Sydney after 16 seasons with the Cowboys – a one-club man. His last five rounds will be in Townsville, Newcastle and Melbourne.

There was no fanfare or fond farewell – all the bells and whistles were for Robbie Farah, quite rightly, playing his first home game since he reached the '300 Club'. He also announced his retirement just six days ago.

Scott and his teammates stood patiently by, while a presentation podium was erected on the field after full-time, fans swarmed in, and a special jersey was gifted to Farah as a band of Lebanese drummers delighted the crowd.

But not a hint of a 'thank you' to Scott for all those hit-ups and offloads, or the joy of seeing the Cowboys snatch a grand final victory – their first – against 'big brother' Broncos in 2015 at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

The Tigers and Cowboys also played out the 2005 grand final – Scott's second year in the NRL. He was named 18th man and didn't play. He also missed the 2017 grand final against Storm, due to his knee reconstruction earlier that year.

Matt Scott greets Maroons fans in 2015.
Matt Scott greets Maroons fans in 2015. ©NRL Photos

So the chance to play in three deciders was whittled down to one – but it was the one that counted!

And Scott is not offended in the slightest. He didn't realise it was his last time in Sydney either.

"I had no idea… but that's I guess what happens in your final year."

And life-changing moments, like finishing your football career, is what makes Scott think of family… his wife Lauren, and sons Hugo and Will – especially his late mum Dianne, who died from throat cancer in 2012.

Mrs Scott used to drive the team bus on weekends to football games, picking up and dropping off kids and often spending up to eight hours behind the wheel.

"I wish she's been around for my boys to meet her. That's my biggest regret.

"Rugby league was always second or third as family to me has always been No.1. But I would have loved mum to be there for the 2015 grand final and also for my retirement.

"But meeting my kids and them getting to know the wonderful woman she was is definitely something that eats at me a bit."

So what does the future hold in 2020? Townsville will remain home for a while but Scott longs to get a hobby farm and return to the land.

"Another goal of mine in retirement is to get back down there [in the Longreach area] more often as I've got a Matt Scott Outback Shield started up this year alongside the Matt Scott Cup competition.

"One is a school boys and the other is club-based. I'd like to go and be a part of those more often."

But before the man they affectionately call 'Thumper' signs off from the NRL, how did a 110kg prop earn the nickname of a much-loved cartoon character from the Disney movie 'Bambi'?

Apparently we have another front-rower to thank in former Cowboy and Maroons teammate Jacob Lillyman.

Matt Scott with Johnathan Thurston and the World Club Series trophy in 2016.
Matt Scott with Johnathan Thurston and the World Club Series trophy in 2016. ©NRL Photos

"Way back in the day, as a young country kid coming through, I tried my best to always make an impact at training," Scott said.

"I was a pretty aggressive with some of the older guys especially, so Jacob started calling me 'Thumper'.

"If definitely has nothing to do with me being cute and cuddly, or liking rabbits."

But it does have everything to do with the type of legacy Scott has left.

He played 22 matches for Australia, winning several man-of-the-match awards breaking the cycle of those type of gongs going to halves, fullbacks or centres.

He played 22 games for Queensland and was a central cog in those eight straight years of victories.

He is a Dally M Prop of the Year and a RLIF Prop of the year, showing his command over the domestic and international fronts.

He won't be a 300-gamer but he is on track to become the second most-capped player at the Cowboys. Thurston (294) is out in front, but if Scott plays all remaining five rounds, he will eclipse Matt Bowen (270) to finish on 271.