Winger Sinoti Sinoti says it’s a privilege to be up for the Newcastle Falcons Heineken Fans’ Player of the Season Award.
It’s been a busy season for Sinoti Sinoti. Having regularly appeared at the top of the Aviva Premiership stat charts for his attacking prowess throughout the season and currently top of the Falcons’ try scoring tally with nine tries, the fleet-footed Winger is now celebrating a call up to Samoa’s Rugby World Cup training squad this summer.
It’s no wonder that Sinoti finds himself on the Heineken Fans Star of the Season shortlist of six and it is an accolade that the winger acknowledges in his usual humble manner.
“It feels good and it’s a privilege being up for the award. It’s been a good season that has been a learning curve personally, I’ve learned a lot.”
When asked about his highlight of the season the 29 year old’s biggest plus comes in the shape of countryman Alesana Tuilagi, who joined the club over the summer.
“One of the main ones was when the big boy came to Newcastle, Alex (Tuilagi). When I found out he was coming here it was a big buzz for me. He is someone I’ve always looked up to throughout my career; you see him scoring good tries and doing heaps of good stuff in the game so when he came I was just happy and although I can’t really replicate what he does I can do my best!”
“When I had my debut with him on the other side of the wing was a big thing for me and having him around the club has really helped my game a lot in terms of trying to push it.”
With plenty of highlights to choose from, one of the stand out moments of Sinoti’s highlights was the try at home against Bath in March, when he picked up the ball in the centre of the pitch and danced his way around the Bath defence to touch down for the score.
“It was surprising on that Bath one because when I got the ball I looked up and there wasn’t really anywhere to go so I just thought I’ll try the outside, and it worked out. Obviously I had a bit of work but then as I got closer to the outline all I was thinking was I better not go out because the worst thing is having a wing going out and then ruining it for the team!
“It just happened so quickly it was a real split second moment for me and it went well.”
The arrival of Tuilagi and his brother Anitelea, has also had an impact on Sinoti’s personal life away from the club, with the arrival of his countrymen assisting with his settling into the North East.
“It’s made a big difference actually; we’ve got a little Polynesian crew going on in Newcastle, which is good. When I first came I had Jamie (Helleur) which was good, and the boys are all really friendly and stuff so it didn’t really matter.
“Once I heard the brothers were coming though it just adds a bit to that culture, that camaraderie which helps, then with Uili (Kolo’ofai) and Tane (Takulua) and a few recruits from next season it’s good.
“It’s always good to have people from all around the world who can contribute to what we’re trying to do in the future, although I hang around with everyone.”
Throughout the course of this season Sinoti has become renowned throughout the Premiership and beyond for those split second decisions, and particularly the fast-paced changes of direction that tend to keep defenders on their toes. Is that a natural instinct for the Wellington-born Winger?
“Pretty much. Rugby is almost a metres game as well so you have to try your best to gain every metre. I believe if you’re trying to get the gain line it helps the team in getting to that next phase and setting what we need to set, so if you’re not making metres then it’s quite difficult to set that platform. But whenever you get the ball and look up you’ve got to make that split second decision to see if you can get in that position on the field.”
And it’s something that Sinoti clearly does well, with his name consistently topping the tables since the dawn of this term for most metres made across the Premiership.
For someone who has become something of a marked man throughout this season, many would see it as something of a relief to play that supporting role for team mates from time to time.
“As you get known more and more people start to focus their players in on you and I think that’s fine actually. It’s a good thing because no person who wants to play well goes unnoticed so you just have to find different ways of doing the same thing.
“There are a lot of one hit wonders out there who have a really good season but the hardest thing is backing it up next season. People tend to fall off in their second season but you just have to find different stuff; I’ve spoken to the coaches and they agree that people are closing in on me so I’ll have to look at other attacking options.”
One thing for which Sinoti is becoming known is his famous step, something that causes an audible lift amongst the Kingston Park faithful. But the man himself says there’s more than style to his signature move.
“Obviously the step and stuff looks good but I only step and stuff to make metres and to get a chance of going on the outside, not to excite the crowd.
“It also gives a good chance to work on the pass, because a pass alone can get you 10 or more metres. If I ran five metres and stepped to where the pass was on that could give us another 20 metres, which is a big difference.
“Mark Wilson’s try against Gloucester was a great example of working with Chris Harris to do that. Charris is really good at looking for the offload when he gets tackled so I just kind of knew to follow him, but then great support play from Mark Wilson as well made that try happen.”
With Harris only one score behind Sinoti in the club’s try scoring tally Sinoti is keen to pay tribute to the younger players pushing hard for a spot in the first XV.
“It’s good competition for the club and for us to field a real good team we need that competition and to know we’re playing our best players on the day.
“In terms of Chris and Hammers they’re two who you can’t really ask for anything else than they’ve given this season; you tell them to go hard and they do.”
With only two games remaining of the current term, Sinoti is hoping that he and his team mates can end the season on a high, putting them in a good position to head back into 2015/16.
“The aim for next season is pretty much winning. But when I say that we’ve got work to do behind that – becoming a winner doesn’t come with ease, we have to get our mindsets right. It’s almost like a nice mustang – if it runs nice and smooth that’s great but it needs to be fine tuned and that’s what we need, to be a nice, strong engine.”
And finally, reflecting back on the last eight months, who would Sinoti choose as his own player of the season?
“There’s a few, a lot of the boys have done well. But I think solely on all the work he’s done behind the scenes and also on the field would have to be Powelly for me personally.” Is Sinoti Sinoti your Newcastle Falcons Heineken Fans Star of the Season? Fans have until 5pm on Friday 15th May to cast their votes and be in with the chance of winning two tickets to the club’s end of season celebration and award ceremony on 19th May at Kingston Park.
Click here to cast your vote and enter the competition to win this and other prizes. Each fan is allowed one vote per day up to and including the final deadline.