Despite their poor season thus far, Simon Woolford’s installation as their head coach has offered hope of a new, positive direction for Huddersfield Giants. Since the removal of Rick Stone earlier in the season after a dire start to the season, Chris Thorman’s temporary tenure at the helm saw improved performances as the team waited for Woolford to arrive in the country.
Now, the former Canberra Raiders hooker has confirmed that the Giants are in talks to sign NRL star Akuila Uate for 2019. Manly Sea Eagles’ Fijian flyer has a remarkable try record of 129 scores in 199 matches thus far in his NRL career, a time including a long stint with Newcastle Knights before his move to Manly for 2017. Having also made five State of Origin appearances for New South Wales and the same amount for Australia, there is no doubting the 30-year-old’s pedigree in the sport and a move to Huddersfield would, indeed, be something of a coup.
Due to the Sea Eagles’ issues surrounding their salary cap breaches, which have already led to the departure of Darcy Lussick this season, Uate, however, is free to leave the club. It is believed that he was hoping for another NRL club before receiving a big-money offer from the 2013 Super League League Leaders’ Shield winners. Woolford, newly arrived at the Giants following a tenure as Newcastle Knights assistant coach, has confirmed that talks are “well down the line” ahead of a prospective move.
Any move that sees the Fijian RLWC star move to Huddersfield offers a potentially barnstorming wing pairing for the Kirklees club with Jermaine McGillvary set to line up on the opposite flank. Continuing about the discussions with Uate, Woolford added that “nothing is done yet but we are hopeful over the next couple of weeks that he will commit to us. There is still a bit of work to do and he has still got quite a bit of interest from some NRL clubs, but hopefully the decision will be in our favour. He has got a young family too, so it is a big move for him but by all reports, he is very open to coming over here and we are hopeful that he decides to come over.” It is believed that, to stave off NRL interest, the Giants are willing to offer a longer deal than teams Down Under would.