Akuila Uate is an International Rugby league player from Fiji who represents them on the World stage and has also represented Australia. He is a winger who has played in 3 world cups for Fiji including being part of the World cup Semi final team in 2017. He is a 3 time Dally M Winger of the Year award winner and has played in representative matches for the President’s XI, New South Wales, the NRL all stars and just last year was selected in the World all star team. Domestically he currently plays for the Manly Sea Eagles in the NRL after having previously played for the Newcastle Knights for whom he is currently the highest try-scorer in their history.
Akuila told us that he grew up with just his Mother and Grandparents in Fiji as his Father had left home when he was younger and moved to Australia. He had a happy childhood and one of his fondest memories was when he and his brothers used to go fishing. He said it was always a big part of family life that they had to fish and get fruit crops from Friday and Saturday, so that it could be prepared for each Sunday, which was always a day of rest, where the family would go to church and then come home for a big family feast. Akuila remembers as the youngest of five children, he was always designated chief basket holder. His brothers would catch the fish while he would hold the basket and collect the catch for everyone. He remembers though that the best part was always at the end of a hard day’s fishing, when they would get to put all the small fish on the fire to eat before setting off home with the big fish and the mission accomplished.
Akuila explained that faith was always a big part of island life growing up and agreed 110% that even though they didn’t have a lot of material things like a big car or a fancy house, they never needed those things to be happy. Even when there were ups and downs in life and later in Rugby, the one thing that had always given him hope has been his faith in God and knowing that he would always strengthen and provide for him if he had faith. As an athlete there are always going to be ups and downs. Afterall you can’t win every single game and play well all the time. there are going to be injuries and disappointments along the way but with Akuila building his life on a foundation of faith, thats something that no one can ever take away from him. God is alway there, no matter what, unlike all the material things that so many other people base their whole lives upon, which means when those things are lost often their whole worlds fall apart..
At the Age of 16 Akuila moved to Australia in order to finish his schooling and at that point went to live with with his Father and Step Mother. Not speaking English at all as well as getting used to Australian culture, meant that Akuila faced a number of challenges but never let them beat him and continued to work as hard as he could at school and through sports. As well as playing Rugby Union he was involved in athletics and actually reached state level in sprinting. His Rugby league career on the other hand, never really got started till his late. In fact the first time he ever played Rugby league was when couple of friends took him to a training session one afternoon for his first go. He wasn’t prepared at all and not knowing anything about the game didn’t know what to expect and didn’t even have boots. He remembers though that the moment he was given the ball the rules didn’t really matter, as he simply just ran around everyone and headed straight for the try line every time astounding everyone, including the coaches. It wasn’t long with his talent, coupled with hard work that he signed his first pro contract and from there, despite some ups and downs, went on to become one of the best players in the world.
Akuila wanted you guys to know that there will be times when it feels like you have nothing when you compare yourself to others but also wanted you to know that God will always be with and will give you everything you need to reach the dreams he’ s given you. Akuila also want to leave you with this thought and said, “The gift of faith is always available to you and with that you never are really without and ultimately know that you can never really fail, so continue to believe, keep working hard, be patient and always be true to yourself.”
Akuila said in closing that “I’m so thankful for all the blessings in my life my beautiful wife and my 3 beautiful kids. I’m so grateful for every second of every day I get to spend with them and for me that’s the most important thing. As for Rugby, Akuila said. “My next goal is to win the premiership with Manly and I believe that we have the team to do it this year.” After that there will be more challenges to take on with Fiji who have proven themselves to be a real force on the World stage recently and so it will be interesting to see how they go in the next big tournament and we’ll all certainly be looking forward to finding out too.