Published by Joe McDonough, 9 September 2018 on foxsports.com.au
CAMERON Smith, Damien Cook, Andrew McCullough… and Sione Katoa.
He might not be the biggest name of the remaining No.9s but he showed on Saturday evening he can handle finals footy.
In fact, Panthers assistant and until round 10 this season — starting hooker Peter Wallace, said Katoa’s doing his best work at the pointy end of the competition.
Important, of course, as most champion sides are anchored reliably by a quality rake. In recent years think Smith, Michael Ennis, Jake Friend, Jake Granville and Issac Luke.
Even more important because only two weeks ago, coach Cameron Ciraldo didn’t have a clear idea of who to throw into dummy half.
Katoa, as Wallace explained, was struggling with self-doubt.
So, with the finals approaching Ciraldo did what he does best.
“‘Ciro’ has had a lot to do with (Katoa) coming through the grades so he just pulled him aside because he was down a little on confidence,” Wallace revealed to foxsports.com.au.
“That’s one of Ciro’s strengths, he’s great with the young blokes and building up their confidence.
“So after that he came buzzing into training and his last two performances have been his best.”
“Yeah definitely he can! You saw today he’s adding to his game each week, gaining confidence,” he said confidently.
“He had a few more kicks tonight too which will be good for us and he’s picking the right times when he should run and look short… he’s got an awesome passing game.”
It sets up a mouth-watering duel next weekend with fellow young gun Jayden Brailey.