Weekender

Fijian flyer set to soar even higher

Written By : BARRY TOOHEY. A 100kilogramme, muscle-ripped Akuila Uate cut an imposing figure on Wednesday as the Knights kicked off preparations for their 2011 premiership campaign with a light
12 Nov 2010 12:00

Written By : BARRY TOOHEY. A 100kilogramme, muscle-ripped Akuila Uate cut an imposing figure on Wednesday as the Knights kicked off preparations for their 2011 premiership campaign with a light training run in Newcastle.
In a breakthrough year for the Fijian flyer, Uate was one of the NRL’s great success stories with a competition-high 21 tries and Dally M Winger of the Year status.
But according to Knights insiders, the best is still to come.
In a sobering warning to rivals, Knights strength coach Mick Reid said Uate had the potential to improve one of his greatest assets – his speed.
“We think he can go even faster,” Reid said on Wednesday.
“It is something we’re working on with him. There is the potential there for some more improvement in his speed.
“A couple of times last season there were opportunities for him to probably pin his ears back and go for it and he didn’t.
“It’s something that we will be concentrating on.”
With the path now cleared for Uate to play Origin football for NSW and Tests for Australia, most judges believe it is only a matter of time for the Fijian.
But coach Rick Stone said there was no chance of his try-scoring machine getting too far ahead of himself.
“It’s going to be the big question, isn’t it – can Aku reproduce in 2011 the sort of form he produced last season?” Stone said.
“He’s certainly got some expectation to deal with now but if he can consistently perform to the same level next season, there are going to be some special times ahead for him.
“It’s early days. There is some scope there for him to drop a little bit of weight.
“He’s around 100kg at the moment but you are probably looking at him playing at about 97kg. We’ll keep him pretty grounded and make sure he keeps doing everything right.
“He’s certainly got the potential to be a potent force for us again, that’s for sure.”
One of the Knights’ key signings – Dragons premiership-winning prop Neville Costigan – has been given a further week off and will go under the knife on Thursday to clear up some minor cartilage trouble in his knee before linking with the club next week.



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