York City Knights are pleased to confirm the signing of experienced forward Ukuma Ta’ai on a two-year deal, thanks to the support of Squad Builder.
Ta’ai joins the Knights from fellow Betfred Championship club Newcastle Thunder after a two-year spell on Tyneside. His move to the North-East came after an eight-year stint with Huddersfield Giants, helping the Super League club to the League Leaders’ Shield in his first year in the UK.
The 35-year-old is capable of playing both in the back-row and as a prop or loose-forward and has ten Tongan international appearances to his name.
On signing Ta’ai, Knights Head Coach James Ford said: “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!
On Ford, Ta’ai added: “I’ve spoken to him and he seems like a really nice person.
“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 – it’s him. He’ll pick the position for me that he thinks will be best for the team and I’ll take whatever he gives me!”
Ta’ai joins the likes of Josh Daley and Ata Hingano as new signings for the Knights ahead of 2023 and season tickets to watch them take to the field with fans’ favourites Matty Marsh, Will Jubb and Bailey Antrobus are available now.