A rejuvenated Solomone Kata says he's ready to be the ACT Brumbies' back-line weapon, revealing a high school coach helped convince him to make a cross-code switch this year.
The former NRL cannonball quit rugby league at the end of last year after stints with the New Zealand Warriors and Melbourne Storm to pursue what he says is a childhood goal.
The Brumbies view him as an X-factor addition and will use his powerful 101 kilogram frame to destroy opposition defensive lines when the season begins on January 31.
He got his first serious chance to impress during an intra-squad battle on Friday and will ramp up his bid for round-one selection when the Brumbies play the Melbourne Rebels in a trial next week.
Kata, who scored 46 tries in 93 games for the Warriors, says testing himself in Super Rugby will give him a fresh start, even if he admits he's worried about trying to play the ball after getting tackled.
"I'm not here to make up the numbers," Kata said.
"To be honest, I needed another challenge. I still love rugby league, but I just needed to try something new and be hungry for something.
"I played rugby when I was younger and I didn't want to just go through the motions.
"When I first got to the Brumbies, I said to myself I'm not here to make up the numbers, I want to make a difference. I'm coming here to do whatever it takes to make selection for round one and give the coaches confidence I can play."
Kata moved to Melbourne last year hoping to link with supercoach Craig Bellamy to help him find the spark he needed in rugby league.
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When it didn't eventuate, Kata spoke to his former schoolboy coach Dave Dillon about his career. Dillon knows Brumbies recruitment manager Chris Tindall and that paved the way for Kata's move to Canberra.
The 25-year-old is one of several players battling for a spot on the Brumbies' wing while also training in the centres.
The pint-sized power runner, who has played for New Zealand and Tonga in international rugby league, has also been working on his goalkicking to add an extra element to his selection mission.
Tongan-born Kata says he grew up idolising Ma'a Nonu and Matt Giteau, which led to him being recruited to New Zealand on a rugby scholarship at Sacred Heart College in Auckland.
"The boys are probably sick of me asking questions every day, but I really want to learn the game," Kata said.
"My whole focus of the pre-season was to ask questions. This has been my dream since I was growing up. Things changed a little bit when I moved [to New Zealand], but now I'm back ready to chase my dreams."
Toni Pulu is expected to start the season on the left wing for the Brumbies, but Kata, Mack Hansen, Andy Muirhead, Guy Porter and Tom Wright are jostling for the first opportunity to replace Henry Speight on the right wing.
Coach Dan McKellar is expected to announce his new captain next week before the trial against the Rebels.
SUPER RUGBY TRIAL
January 23: ACT Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels at Greenfield Park, Albury. Game one at 3.45pm, game two at 6.15pm.
SUPER RUGBY ROUND ONE
January 31: ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds at Canberra Stadium, 7.15pm.