Anyone following his progress through the under 20’s, since his NRL debut in 2018 and then last year when helping guide the Newtown Jets to duel titles, would have recognised the talent, with Sione Katoa this year realising that immense potential with a breakout season in the NRL.
Second on the competition’s try-scorers list with 14 four-pointers so far this year, Katoa has spectacularly finished off numerous attacking movements, while never being afraid to do the hard yards coming out of the Sharks defensive end.
Now that continued development and improved performance has been rewarded, with the 23-year-old Katoa signing a new three-year contract that will see him remain at the Cronulla club until at least the end of the 2023 season.
While disappointed to be missing from the Sharks big game against Newcastle tonight due to a chest injury, this minor setback did little to wipe the smile from Katoa’s face with confirmation of his new deal.
“It’s very pleasing for myself and my young family that I’ve been able to re-sign with the Sharks and secure my future,” Katoa said. “I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far, especially this year in being able to become more consistent with my performances and I’m excited about the rest of this season and the next three years.
“Let’s hope I can score plenty more tries for the team and for the fans,” he added.
Always a player who could get the ball across the stripe, Katoa was the leading try scorer in the Holden Cup under-20’s in 2017 before earning a promotion to the Sharks NRL squad and an NRL debut in round one of the 2018 season.
A broken jaw in that rookie season curtailed his progress, Katoa playing nine matches in 2018, before he was forced to bide his time behind an experienced Sharks backline with seven more games in 2019.
Despite limited opportunities in the top grade last year Katoa continued to work at his craft, playing a leading role for the Jets in their run through to Canterbury Cup and National Championship titles, then following an impressive pre-season coach John Morris had little choice but to include him for round one this year. Now 14 tries later in 16 matches played in 2020 and the rest is history.
“It’s more exciting signing news for our club and I’m very happy that we have secured Sione for the next three years,” Morris said.
“I coached Sione in the Holden Cup when he joined our club in 2016 and his development and transition into a top line NRL winger is not only a great example of our Elite player pathway system but also an indication of his dedication and work ethic that has seen him become one of the top finishers in the NRL.
“Sione’s ability to find the try line has always been a unique talent, one he’s had coming through the grades and it is very pleasing to see him currently amongst the highest try scorers in the competition.
“However, what pleases me most about Sione is his outstanding character and the humility he carries himself with and along with our other recent signings of (Ronaldo) Mulitalo, (Will) Kennedy and Jensen Taumoepeau, and when combining them with Jesse Ramien, it shows the exciting crop of young talent that we have in our outside backs.”
The Katoa signing comes on the back of the Toby Rudolf contract extension announced earlier in the week.
As indicated by Morris, Katoa and Rudolf join Mulitalo, Kennedy, Teig Wilton, Royce Hunt and Siosifa Talakai as players to have recently recommitted to the Cronulla club for 2021 and beyond as the Sharks continue to build an exciting young squad.
SIONE KATOA Fact File
DOB: August 21, 1997 - Hamilton, NZ
Junior Club: Chester Hill Hornets
NRL Debut: Sharks v Cowboys, 1300 SMILES Stadium, Round 1, 2018
NRL Games: 32 – 21 tries