Newcastle Falcon Sinoti Sinoti is fast becoming one of Aviva Premiership Rugby’s most potent wingers – and attack coach Dave Walder insists he wouldn’t swap the New Zealand-born dynamo for anyone.
Walder was drafted into the Falcons’ coaching set-up on a full-time basis for the start of the season and has helped mastermind a fast-moving evolution at Kingston Park.
Attendances are up by more than 18 per cent this campaign and little wonder when Sinoti and company are finding the try-line in frequent fashion.
At the league’s half-way point, Falcons have racked up 22 tries – only one fewer than last season’s total effort – and most importantly have left a 20-game losing streak far behind.
Sinoti has been the chief nemesis of many a team this year, not only scoring five times but beating defenders an Aviva Premiership-leading 45 times.
And the key to his run, according to Walder, has been in ensuring the ball reaches his hands as many times as possible.
“Sinots has been a different level to anyone at times, he gets the ball and there’s excitement in the crowd, whether he’s 20 yards deep in our own half or from the opposition’s try-line,” he said.
“Last year he was only touching the ball four or five times a game and my job’s been to work with the unit and make sure he gets it as much as possible – this year he’s getting ten, 11 touches and he’s showing all he can do.
“If you look at the stats, I think he’s beaten more defenders in the Premiership than any other player this year by quite a distance so far. He’s a fantastic guy to work with and always brings his best whether it’s in training or the match.
“Right now, for what we have going here I wouldn’t swap him for anyone else. He’s got to be in the top three wingers in the Premiership in any argument just to put it in perspective.”
At 29 Sinoti is hitting his peak but at the other end of the spectrum, there is a host of fresh talent taking their first steps at the Falcons.
Walder himself was part of a bumper crop at the club in the late 1990s – which included the one and only Jonny Wilkinson – and the 36-year-old is desperate to help the new flock reach their potential.
“(Academy coaches) Mark Laycock and James Ponton are probably the unsung heroes at the club and there are six or seven guys coming through the academy now who should go on to play a big part here,” he added.
“For a few years there had been a bit of a dripfeed of talent with one or two coming out at the same time but we have a great crop.
“Chris Harris is an exceptional lad and at the other end of it you’ve got Tom Penny who came on for a few minutes for his Premiership debut at the weekend.
“They could be the best group to come out since my era. I was always very aware of my roots and how much this club developed me, and the academy is still just as massive.”
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