Warriors centre Solomone Kata credits developing his mental toughness and taking no short cuts for the prolific try-scoring start to his NRL career.
Kata’s crucial four-pointer in the 24-20 win over Newcastle last weekend, when he showed his power and speed to score from 35 metres out, was his ninth in his debut first-grade season.
It was also the fifth match in a row that the 20-year-old Tongan-born centre had dotted down and it kept him top of the Warriors’ list of try-scorers for the year, one ahead of wing Manu Vatuvei.
Kata says he hadn’t anticipated coach Andrew McFadden giving him a start in the opening round.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” he said.
“He gave me the opportunity and I took it. Every game I just need to do all the little things outside and on the field. I need to have no short cuts.”
A convert from rugby, Kata ended his time with the Junior Warriors by scoring a hat-trick in the NYC grand final victory over Brisbane last October.
He said one of the things he had had to work on in the step up to the NRL was developing his mental toughness.
Having the experience of Vatuvei, back-rower Ryan Hoffman and five-eighth Chad Townsend around him on the left edge had been a big help.
McFadden is delighted with Kata’s progress after the player hadn’t figured in the match-day squad he had pencilled in during the off-season.
“I don’t know that Solomone was in my starting 17 in November last year,” McFadden said.
“But he has made huge improvements and he’s been there all season.”
McFadden said what had impressed him most was the way Kata turned up and competed each week.
“It’s not easy for a young kid to get himself up in the NRL every week but he’s obviously a very confident young man and, whilst he’s doing his job, he holds his spot,” he said.
“He’s been a real find for us.”