York City Knights sign Newcastle Thunder forward Ukuma Ta'ai
By Jacob Kilbride
YORK City Knights have strengthened their forward pack with the signing of veteran Ukuma Ta'ai on a two-year deal.
Ta'ai arrives at York after two seasons at fellow Betfred Championship side Newcastle Thunder, during which time he has made 34 appearances and scored 13 tries.
Prior to his spell in the North East, the versatile forward played 196 times for Huddersfield Giants across eight seasons, winning the League Leaders' Shield in the Betfred Super League in 2013.
York head coach James Ford said on the 10-cap forward: “We’re delighted to sign Ukuma and the physicality that he brings.
"He has caused us problems every time we’ve played against him and we’re excited to use his qualities and experience.
“He is obviously a very experienced player and I’m confident that his leadership will be central to us making more progress on and off the field."
Discussing how the move to the Knights came about, Ta’ai said: “It came from nowhere really.
"Obviously, with what happened at Newcastle with them going to part-time, I knew everything would change and I started looking around.
“My agent called and asked if I was interested in York. At the end of the day, they’ve given me the opportunity and I really appreciate it.
"I know some of the people there from playing together and there’s some people there who I have played against. I’m looking forward to linking up with them.
"I’ve played against them in the last couple of years and I know York are a good side.
"A lot of the players I played against have played in Super League, like Pauli Pauli. They really have a good side and I know for sure that I will fit in with that.
“I am looking forward to getting out there and do the best thing I can to help the team. My game is pretty much about going forward and taking opportunities.
"Trying to destroy people is the main thing for a forward and that’s me, I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing for a few years."
“I could be playing both in the middle and back-row but, for me, I’m not the kind of person to pick a position.
"He (Ford) will pick the position for me that he thinks will be best for the team and I’ll take whatever he gives me.”
The 35-year-old becomes the 18th confirmed squad member for 2023, with the deal supported by the club's Squad Builder Fund.
Also signed up for next year are Matty Marsh, Joe Brown, James Glover, Jacob Ogden, Brendan O’Hagan, Will Jubb, Jack Teanby, Chris Clarkson, Pauli Pauli, Jordan Thompson, Myles Harrison, AJ Towse, Brad Ward, Bailey Antrobus, Olly Butterworth, Ata Hingano and Josh Daley.