NRL: Top wing facing an aerial test

Akuila Uate of the Knights breaks clear of the Tigers defence during the round one match.  Photo / Getty Images
Akuila Uate of the Knights breaks clear of the Tigers defence during the round one match. Photo / Getty Images

Canberra co-captain Josh McCrone has hinted there may be an aerial bombardment heading the way of star Newcastle winger Akuila Uate at Hunter Stadium today.

Uate may be one of the most devastating attackers in the NRL but five-eighth McCrone believes catching is not his strongest trait. Uate, who has played five State of Origin matches for New South Wales, was dumped by the Blues last year after a shocker under the high ball in the second Origin game.

"So it wouldn't be a bad idea to sit him under a few bombs, especially with the catchers we've got like Jack [Wighton] on one side and Blake [Ferguson] and Sandor [Earl] on the other," he said.

Uate is in blistering form again this season, scoring a double in Newcastle's 34-6 hammering of North Queensland last Monday to take his try tally to five in three matches. Such a record in attack could mean McCrone will likely avoid kicking to the Australian representative out of his own half.

"Uate is a pretty formidable player," said McCrone. "It's not too much fun when you kick it to him and he charges straight back at you.

"I think we're lucky [Dane] Gagai's out and BJ Leilua isn't playing, they could be even stronger. It's pretty exciting the challenge we've got there."

The Raiders have had their own case of the fumbles. Having completed at just 64 per cent in their opening two losses to start the NRL season, they secured their first victory courtesy of an 80 per cent completion rate against St George Illawarra Dragons last Sunday.

Despite a disappointing start to the season, marred by the sacking of fullback Josh Dugan, McCrone denied the Raiders were in need of a dramatic turnaround.

"I don't think our confidence was ever really dented, we were beating ourselves by dropping too much ball in those first two rounds," McCrone said. "We set a goal at the start of the year to complete at 80 per cent, the first two weeks we were around 60, that's just not acceptable."

He said the Raiders would be focused on repeating last Sunday's 80 per cent completion rate and hopes their edgy spell is now over.

"It might have been a concentration thing individually. And once you get two or three people doing that, it affects the team."

- AAP

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n1 at 31 Aug 2014 23:44:20 Processing Time: 381ms