Cronulla flyer Sione Katoa has lit up the league to become the NRL’s leading try scorer.
Now he is set to be rewarded with a contract extension.
Katoa has consistently been one of the Sharks’ best players this season, scoring an impressive 13 tries in 14 games.
In a huge boost for Cronulla, the off-contract New Zealand-born winger is closing in on a multi-year deal to remain at the club long term.
Katoa credits his consistent form this season to simply growing up.
Now 22, he believes he has ridden the bumps from predominantly playing in the NSW Cup with Newtown last season to become a better player.
“Yeah, most of it has to do with that being more mature,” Katoa said.
“And just training wise. Not that I wasn’t having a go, but I’m concentrating more on each week and the plan for each game.”
Cronulla’s Sione Katoa attempts a diving try in the corner. Picture: Phil HillyardSource:News Corp Australia
Katoa may be potent on the field with his try-scoring prowess, but he is quietly spoken off the field.
His first zoom interview for the Sharks this season was lucky to last a minute, but his second attempt on Tuesday was much improved.
Cronulla teammate Siosifa Talakai has noticed Katoa come out of his shell more this season.
“The Sione I knew last year didn’t say one word to me,” he said.
“Now he is probably one of the loudest guys in the changeroom with little sneaky jokes.
“But he has definitely matured.”
Katoa’s freakish ability to find a try is no coincidence.
He scored a remarkable 44 tries in 49 games for Cronulla’s under 20s team in 2016 and 2017.
Now we are seeing Katoa star on the NRL stage, much to Talakai’s delight.
“Sione is definitely doing really well for himself,” he said.
“All the tries that he has scored and him coming off the back fence with kick returns.”
Katoa may be killing it, but he isn’t getting carried away about being crowned the NRL’s leading try scorer come season’s end.
He is one try ahead of Stephen Crichton, David Nofoaluma and Alex Johnston, who are all on 12 tries with six rounds remaining this season.
“It would mean a lot, but I’m not really focused on that,” he said.
Instead, Katoa is focused on Friday’s clash against competition leaders Penrith, especially after the Panthers smashed the Sharks 56-24 in round nine.
“Yes, they are a good team being on top of the ladder,” he said.
“In the last game they got us, so it is going to be challenging and I’m looking forward to it.”
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