Sione Mata'utia ahead of Newcastle's trial match against the Raiders.

Uate backs Sione as Knights skipper

Sea Eagles winger Akuila Uate has backed his former club's decision to appoint Sione Mata'utia as captain of the Knights at just 20 years of age.

When Trent Hodkinson was omitted from the Newcastle line-up 24 hours prior to their clash with the Cowboys, former Australian international Mata'utia was named in his place – both at halfback and as skipper.

Nathan Brown's decision to put the "c" next to Mata'utia's name meant the centre-turned back-rower became the youngest Knight to captain the club in their three-decade history.

Now enjoying life on the Northern Beaches, Uate remains in regular contact with Mata'utia since departing the club at the end of last season and was one of the first to hear of the news.

"I think Sione is the right person to do that job, he's only young but he is a very confident person and I spoke to him before the game to congratulate him," Uate told NRL.com.

"Wayne [Bennett] had a big a big rap on Sione when he was at the Knights and said it wouldn't be long until he was captain one day.

"He deserves it, along with Dane [Gagai], they've both been playing well since guys like Danny Buderus, Chris Houston and Kurt Gidley left the club.

"He'll have to learn the little things of being a captain of a club and it wont take one game to know, it will be over time so I hope they stick with him."

 


Uate is still a keen fan of his former club despite a nasty exit in which the 29-year-old was demoted to finish his nine-year career in the Hunter in the Intrust Super Premiership last season against his wishes.

"It's hard to judge on Newcastle at the moment, they've got such a young team," he said.

"When you're losing you need the whole team to lift, not just one person. He (Mata'utia) needs the whole side backing him up and helping out.

"If the team is there for him and stand up it will make his job a lot easier."

After becoming the youngest player to represent Australia in 2014, Mata'utia ticked another box with the leadership role after also recently notching up his 50th Telstra Premiership game back in Round 5.

He also becomes club's 30th skipper in their 30th anniversary season.

"It was an honour to get the captaincy next to my name," Mata'utia said post-game.

"I tried not to make it a big point this week, I wanted it to be about the players.

"It's definitely a [career] highlight, I've always wanted to captain this side but it would have been better if we got the chocolates."