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Praise for unsung hero providing more than tries

Enari Tuala could be the find of the season.

When Tuala completed his 22-hour drive from Townsville to Newcastle for pre-season late last year, his arrival went relatively under the radar.

But he’s fast becoming a crowd favourite following an impressive start to his career in the blue and red.

So impressive, the centre wasted little time convincing Knights decision makers to extend his contract before the season got under way.

Now, the rugby league community is appreciating just how talented the 21-year-old is.

It’s something Kalyn Ponga saw years ago.

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The pair played together in Townsville as part of North Queensland's under-20s side and spent a season together as part of the NRL squad.

"He's obviously an awesome talent," Ponga said of Tuala.

"He hasn't changed much over the years. He's still quiet.”

After three seasons and 18 games in the top grade for the Cowboys, Tuala found himself without a contract for 2020.

That’s when an opportunity presented itself in Newcastle.

Scoring seven tries in 13 games this season, Tuala has been one of the Club’s unsung heroes.

A no nonsense player who goes about his role, Tuala was a standout in last week’s win over Manly and Ponga believes some of his best qualities are the things the casual observer would likely overlook.

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“He's finally being appreciated,” Ponga continued.

“I think, and this team definitely understands the value of his efforts off the ball, all the little things that he does.

"I didn't really notice, growing up, that he was that sort of player. But he's definitely been that player for us all year."

Having played wing and centre this season, Tuala revealed to that the instructions from coach Adam O’Brien has been consistent all year.

"Pretty simple really. He just wants me to do my job and be strong defensively,” Tuala said.