Joshua Uta hopes player of the year accolade will open yet more doors.

Joshua Uta was named the College Rugby League Player of the Year at an awards breakfast last month.

It was a good effort from the Manurewa High School First XIII lock/loose forward - even more meritorious given he is in Year 11.

The 16-year-old is also gearing up to play for NZ Schools next Sunday against NSW Combined High Schools in Papakura.

Uta started playing league at just 4 years old and his winters are now taken up with school games on Wednesday afternoons and club competition on Saturday afternoons for the Mangere East Hawks, who lost this year's grand final to Richmond.


"I get tired, but I still enjoy playing," says Uta.

Manurewa, which enjoys a strong league culture and has two teams in the CRL premier grade, missed the CRL Championship final and placed fifth at the nationals. They don't have access to standoff or halfback Erin Clark, who plays for the Warriors Under-20s, but that means the likes of Uta have picked up the slack.

He has been dominant in the middle of the ruck and his fitness, tenacity and ability to soak up punishment have been priceless for Manurewa.

"We had a pretty good season and had more of a good bond. For me, I like the physical side of the game. I try and go hard the whole time, run hard and tackle hard."

Already a development squad member with the Warriors, giving him access to their Penrose gym and training facilities, Uta hoped the college gong would open more doors.

"I am pretty happy with the award, but my teammates helped me get there with their hard work through the season," Uta said.

"I know I had a good season, but I wasn't expecting it with all the Year 13s there. I was quite surprised.

"I want to try and make the Junior [U-20] Warriors in the next year or so. I have been signed with them for almost a year now and I am hoping this award gets my name out there."


It has certainly done that.

Some of his teammates - wing/centre Michael Saili-Motu, hooker David Phillips and prop Kenese Kenese - have made the NZ Schools team alongside Uta.

If he ends up playing for the Warriors Under-20s, when he becomes eligible at 17, his school game time will be limited, but that is likely to be in Year 13.

Uta is a fan of Sharks, NSW and Kangaroos lock Paul Gallen, and the pair share a nuggety build and high work-rate.

He would love to make it as a professional, and his Warriors contract is the first rung on the ladder.

A New Zealand Maori Under-16 rep, Uta's season will not be finished after the game against NSW Combined High Schools. Next month is the Counties Manukau schools championship, then he will play tag over the summer to stay fit before refocusing for what he hopes will be another big season next year.