Newcastle breathe easy after Uate OK

Aku UatePromising Knights prospect Aku Uate has been lucky to avoid full blown surgery and should be OKe for the start of Newcastle’s 2009 season.Tests yesterday confirmed Uate broke his right ankle last Sunday night when playing for Fiji.

Newcastle medical man Neil Halpin said Uate had broken the lateral malleolus, the small protruding bone on the outside of his right ankle, but believed the flyer could be OK without the need for any surgery.

“He’ll be in a splint for two weeks, then we’ll send him for another X-ray then we’ll put it in plaster, but we should get by without the need for surgery,” Halpin said.

“If everything goes according to plan, he should be back in full training in about 10 weeks, so he’ll be right for the start of next season.

“It is a nasty fracture. It’s right on the joint and it’s undisplaced, but we don’t believe it needs to be pinned or plated so we’re going to treat him conservatively.”

The biggest worry for Newcastle Knights fans, is that even after repair – Uate could lose some of his NRL leading speed. Not so believed Halpin, the respected doctor feeling that Uate should be fine once fully recovered.

Only 21 years old, the former Schoolboys League player notched up 10.9 seconds for the 100 metres while only a student on the Central Coast and is widely believed to be the quickest player in the National League at present.

“I was really excited when James O’Sullivan told me the news that I don’t need an operation. I’m going to do exactly what he tells me and what Neil Halpin tells me and do everything I can for it,” Uate said. “I’ve got to rest it for two weeks then have another X-ray, but they think I should be right to play at the start of next season.

“It’s been a big few weeks for me. I’m still disappointed, but that’s the way it goes.”

Uate is now coming to terms with months on the couch and plenty of movies; something the speedster is not used to doing.

If all goes well, Uate should be fully mobile by mid January and recommencing full-contact training soon after that, giving him a short window to prepare for pre-season trials against the Storm in Melbourne on February 20 and Cronulla at Cessnock on February 28.

But all this seems a smarter move than full surgery, which could have sidelined him until the eve of their NRL season-opener against the Titans on the Gold Coast on the weekend of March 13 to 16.

Uate signed a 12-month contract extension in June and hopes to cement a place on one end of the Newcastle back line next season.

He scored five tries in Fiji’s first three World Cup games, including a hat-trick in a 42-6 rout of France.

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