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Uate ready to shine for Fiji at Rugby League World Cup

Akuila Uate ready to shine for Fiji. NRL.COM Photo
A fired-up Jarryd Hayne propelled Fiji into the semi-finals of the 2008 World Cup and now it's Akuila Uate's turn to take over as the Bati star with a point to prove.

Like Hayne five years ago, flying winger Uate is disappointed not to be picked in the Australian squad for the Cup, that starts in the UK on October 28.

In many ways it was a disappointing season for the 26-year-old excitement machine, who fell out of favour with NSW selectors, and for the first time since 2009 failed to pick up the Dally M winger of the year gong.

But Uate now has the perfect opportunity to show his talent when the Bati face the Kangaroos in their second pool game on November 2 in St Helens.

Hayne's dream 2009 season, when he claimed the Dally M medal and single-handedly launched Parramatta into the grand final, was built on the confidence and perspective gained from being in the Fijian camp.

Bati coach Rick Stone said it's now Uate's turn to flick the switch.

"I think you might find Aku will jump out like Haynesy did in the last World Cup," he said.

"He's really put in for us. Of course he's disappointed he's not playing for Australia, but I think we're going to see a good tournament out of Aku for sure."

Uate finished the season playing close to his best, as the Newcastle Knights surged into the preliminary finals.

After featuring for the Blues last year, Uate failed to get a look in this season - even when injuries forced changes out wide for the game three decider which NSW again lost to Queensland.

If Hayne was Fiji's best back in 2008, then a young Uate wasn't far behind - scoring a hat-trick against France and topping the tournament for tackle breaks.

But Stone believes Uate's best days are still ahead of him and applauded him for his mental toughness.

"He's not a player who dwells on it too much, Aku. He's worked on things he can control and he can't control who they pick in those rep sides," Stone said.

"Your job is to get out there and play good footy. A couple of times he was down a bit but I think he finished the season really strongly. His last six to eight games were terrific and he was back to the old Aku which is his damaging best."

Fiji's 24-man squad is captained by Kangaroos and Queensland legend Petero Civoniceva and features NRL stars like Tariq Sims, Sisa Waqa and Kevin Naiqama.

Stone was disappointed to lose Hayne to Australian selection, while South Sydney five-eighth John Sutton was also a big loss due to injury.

"We're pretty happy with the NRL experience we have in the team and there's plenty of boys who played in the World Cup the previous time," he said.

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