September 12, 2019 by admin
KNIGHTS wrecking ball Aku Uate was crowned Dally M winger of the year last night for a third straight season.
Despite being dropped by NSW coach Ricky Stuart for the State of Origin decider mid-season, Uate became the first winger since Dragons speedster Nathan Blacklock (1999-2001) to be judged the best finisher in the game for three consecutive years.
Uate was acknowledged at the annual Dally M Medal awards presentation at Sydney Town Hall last night.
Uate thanked his Knights team-mates and coaches, family and friends, and said he did not use his Origin dumping as motivation during the second half of the season.
“Not really. I just moved on and wanted to improve myself, and hopefully I’ll get another chance next year,” Uate said.
The other three nominees for winger of the year were Brett Morris (Dragons), Ash Graham (Cowboys) and Manu Vatuvei (Warriors).
Uate, who turns 25 next month, was the Dally M winger of the year in 2010 and 2011.
Uate (18 tries) was the NRL’s third top try-scorer this season, finishing behind Canterbury’s Ben Barba and North Queensland’s Ash Graham (21 each).
It was the third straight year that Uate was Newcastle’s top try-scorer, as he took his career total to 70 from 90 NRL games.
An Australian representative in the Anzac Test in Auckland in April, Uate played for NSW in the first two games of the State of Origin series this year but was dropped for the Suncorp Stadium decider on July 4, which Queensland won 21-20.
The Fijian-born flyer responded to that setback by scoring tries in nine consecutive games for the Knights, taking his season tally from six to 18, but he went try-less in their last two matches.
Uate and Barba led the NRL in line breaks this year with 25 each, he was equal fourth in tackle breaks (110), seventh in total metres (3184) and 11th in average metres (144.7).
He and fullback Darius Boyd were the only Newcastle players named on Monday in the Kangaroos train-on squad for the one-off Test against New Zealand at Townsville on October 13.
CROWNED: Aku Uate on the red carpet with partner Samantha Maton.
Ben Barba, 2012 Dally M medal winner.
Dale Cherry Evans at the Dally M awards.
Todd Carney and Lauren Eagle.
Rabbitohs players Sam Burgess with John Sutton arriving at the Dally M Awards at Sydney Town Hall.
Bulldogs player Michael Ennis and wife Simone arriving at the Dally M Awards at Sydney Town Hall.
Cronulla player Paul Gallen and wife Anne arrive at the Dally M Awards at Sydney Town Hall.
Rabbitohs player Greg Inglis and partner Sally arrive at the Dally M Awards at Sydney Town Hall.
Darren Lockyer and wife Loren arrive at the Dally M Awards at Sydney Town Hall.
Top pointscorer Jarrod Crocker, of the Canberra Raiders.
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