Uate relishing change of environment
He earnt the nickname "Thriller" at the Knights after a nine-year career and now Manly Sea Eagles winger Akuila Uate is turning back the clock after what he described as a "disappointing exit" in the Hunter last season.
The sight of Uate into open space against the Gold Coast Titans on Saturday night would have had those on the northern beaches chuffed at what they saw, however Knights fans could be excused for feeling like coach Nathan Brown made the wrong decision letting the club's all-time leading try-scorer go in a trade-deal for injured Knight Jamie Buhrer.
Newcastle's loss is the Sea Eagles' gain and it has been a wild journey for the 29-year-old but his 80-minute performance against the Titans was a true reflection of just how much Uate has relished a change of environment under Trent Barrett.
He has scored seven tries and played in every game for the Sea Eagles in the opening 11 rounds of the NRL Telstra Premiership and is averaging over 118 metres with eight line breaks in total.
"I was disappointed with the way I finished at Newcastle and honestly I still haven't let go," Uate told NRL.com
"I had one more year but between me and the coach (Nathan Brown) I wasn't happy with how he just put me back down to the Intrust Super Premiership.
"The injuries that I had in the last couple of years hurt me really bad and with Browny putting me back, he didn't help my confidence at all.
"I only hope that if I was still there he would've let me play and get through those injuries and get myself right but that's the past now and I cant look back too much."
Leaving the Knights came as a shock more to those around him rather than the cool and calm Fijian native.
"[The exit] happened so fast, my family were all crying that they were being forced to leave too but I was a bit more calm about it. I just told them everything would be alright," Uate said.
"I got a lot of phone calls from people like Kurt Gidley, Chris Houston and Danny Buderus and they were devastated I was leaving but things happen and I just had to take it on the chin as much as it hurt.
"I didn't picture myself going to any other club and sadly it's happened now but my family are happy and settled in."
Uate admits to hating the Sydney lifestyle and avoids driving to training as much as possible with his preferred transport a push bike to Narrabeen.
Confidence is the key word that comes to mind for the crowd favourite, who admits he's had several talks with Sea Eagles coach Trent Barrett since joining the club about his own performances and contribution to the team.
Barrett worked alongside Uate in the State of Origin arena and is now relishing the chance to play outside a quality centre in Dylan Walker.
"I speak to 'Baz' (Trent Barrett) about different things all the time and I'm just happy to be playing first grade again and do my job for Manly every week," he said.
"Looking back it has been a good move now and it's just good to be winning again, I haven't had that feeling in the last two years.
"I tell the boys now I get one win and it's the best feeling ever."
One fixture Uate has pencilled in since the draw announcement was Round 14 against his former club – albeit at Lottoland – with both sides not scheduled to meet in Newcastle this season.
It was a ritual for the Woy Woy junior to acknowledge the fans post-game and he would often be the last to leave the field despite the result.
"It's a shame we're not playing the Knights up there as I really want to run around the ground after the game and say thanks to all the people who supported me during my time there," Uate said.
"I never got the chance to say goodbye so when I do eventually return I'll make sure I say hello and do a lap.
"Newcastle is a family and I still feel apart of that, the fans are amazing and I appreciate all their support up there and even now I still get messages."