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Akuila Uate: Speed, Strength, Power

If you close your eyes and picture it, you can actually hear the sound of 'Thriller' blasting across the McDonald Jones Stadium PA system.

It was the sound that signified the arrival of one of modern day rugby league's most powerful wingers.

It wasn't a rare sound. In fact, it played more times than most other tracks on the Game-Day DJ's playlist.

110 times, to be exact. That's how many times Aquila Uate crossed the stripe in a red and blue jersey.

Considering he played 161 games for the Club, it's quite the strike rate.

Born in the Nadroga-Navosa Province in Fiji, Uate was recruited to the Knights from the Woy Woy Roosters after moving to Australia as a 16-year-old.

Almost immediately, Uate was earmarked as something special.

Andrew Johns, still playing at this stage, perhaps said it best.

"In all my years in rugby league I've never seen a better athlete than this bloke," Johns said back in 2006.

The winger was a standout in the '06 Jersey Flegg Grand Final, scoring a try in the 22-20 defeat to Penrith.

Two years later, already with a cap for Fiji under his belt, Uate made his NRL debut, scoring a try in the 16-13 loss to Cronulla.

A week later, he scored a double in a big win over the Rabbitohs in his first game at McDonald Jones Stadium.

It was a sign of things to come.

In his nine seasons in the Hunter, Uate set a Club record of 110 tries, ahead of the likes of Timana Tahu, Andrew Johns and Kurt Gidley.

It's certainly an esteemed group to not only stand alongside, but rise above of in terms of pure try scoring.

Uate went on to achieve just about all you can as a winger in rugby league.

He was named Dally M Winger of the Year three times straight, taking out the gong in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

In 2011, his season was so good that he also took out the RLIF Winger of the Year award, and most significantly, the RLPA Player of the Year.

Dubbed 'Akuila the Thriller', he was also handed his Country Origin, NSW, NRL All Stars and Australian debuts.

Strong, powerful and lightning fast, Uate excelled at every level of the game.

His rep career, spanning 34 games including 18 for Fiji, netted 23 tries.

With the winds of change in the air come-2016, Uate's career took him to Manly, where he added another 19 tries in 39 games at Brookvale Oval.

A one season stint in the English Super League at Huddersfield in 2019 drew the curtain on a glittering career for Uate, with the winger scoring five tries.

Still a regular face at Knights home games, Uate retired as one of the most iconic wingers in the history of the Club.

The 'Thriller' soundtrack remains ingrained in the memories of a generation of Novocastrians who grew up watching Uate tear teams apart on the right edge.

His legacy of lighting up the touchline was worth the price of admission alone every week, and his try scoring record will take some serious beating in the future.