It wasn't the sort of signing that had Manly fans dreaming of a return to the top in 2017, but Akuila Uate's form this season has justified Trent Barrett's decision to bring him across to the Sea Eagles with the winger playing a starring role in his side's thumping 46-8 win over South Sydney on Friday night.
Uate claimed four tries in the 38-point win, and while most of the hard work was done by teammate Dylan Walker on the right edge, the flying Fijian showed he is far from a spent force in the NRL with several classy finishes.
It was the second time Uate had scored four tries in a match – interestingly the other time was also against Souths back in 2011 – and it capped a return to form that started in the Round 5 win over the Roosters at Allianz Stadium.
"I'm really happy for both of them, particularly Aku," Barrett said after the game.
"He had a horror 12 months where he was down on confidence and doubting his ability, I suppose. He's very popular with the players, he's a character and he worked really hard in the off-season and he's getting rewarded for it."
Uate managed just one try from 10 appearances for Newcastle last season in what was a horror year for both parties, but that didn't stop Barrett from signing the man he knew could tear a game apart when on song.
"I knew that he could play as he's playing," Barrett replied when asked why he had taken a punt on the out-of-form winger.
"You don't play for Australia and play for New South Wales and just lose your ability. The only thing you lose is motivation and confidence, and he's got that back.
"I've had a fair bit to do with 'Choc' coaching him in Country sides and Origin sides as an assistant, so I knew what he could bring to the group. He just needed an arm around him and he's enjoying his footy, his family is happy and he's playing well.
"He's a great fella and he's got so much ability it was a bit of a shame to watch him at Newcastle. He's back now, which is good."
Teammate Jake Trbojevic added that a relaxed environment off the field had translated to success on the field for Uate.
"He's in really good form and it's really good to see because I think he's enjoying his footy at the moment and it's showing on the field," Trbojevic told NRL.com.
"He's killing it at the moment which is great for us."
This article first appeared on NRL.com