His fancy footwork may have won him instant admiration at Newcastle Falcons, but Sinoti Sinoti has revealed his hot-stepping style is not the product of any coaching academy.
The 28-year-old was an instant sensation at Kingston Park after landing in December, catching the kick-off against Sale Sharks and beating two tacklers with a sway of the hips and the fast feet that were to quickly become his trademark.
Having overcome some early injury worries the Samoan international was back into the groove for the last month of the campaign, crossing for what was eventually judged ‘try of the season’ against Heineken Cup finalists Saracens.
Asked about the genesis of his unique evasion technique, Sinoti said: “I have had that footwork since I was 10 years old.
“It is not through any coaching or watching games on TV, it is just from me and my mates playing in bare feet back home in the street. It kind of stuck, and I have just perfected it as the years have gone by.”
He has made a fair old career out of it, playing in France for Toulon and Castres, in Italy for Aironi, New Zealand for Wellington and now at Newcastle Falcons, where he recently signed a two-year contract extension. With few players to compare against his one-off side-stepping, he explained: “I just visualise how to make it work, and I have had it all along.
“Obviously the likes of Benji Marshall in rugby league and some of the sevens players do it, like Waisale Serevi, who is a legend in Fiji. But I tried it when I was a little kid, and it just stuck.
“We weren’t playing on proper pitches or anything like that, we just used the road as our field and ran around with bare feet. Maybe the road was so hot, and that is why I started the quick feet!”
Heading home from Tyneside for the summer but uncertain as to whether he will be involved in the international schedule, Sinoti said: “Samoa do have some games, but I am not sure if I am involved yet.
“I have not heard anything on that either way, but if I am not playing then I want to go back home to New Zealand and spend some time with my mum and dad. I can use that time to regenerate for a long season ahead.
“I need to go home to get motivation so I can bring it onto the field, and I need to keep fresh during the long season.”
Having sought the advice of countrymen who have played in the attritional English Premiership, he added: “To try to stay on top of your game for nine months or more is difficult, and you can go through spells where you are good for a few weeks and then you drop off.
“I need to stay at that high level, and I know it is not easy.
“It takes a toll on your body and I am not young anymore, so I need to look after myself and really fly into the new season.”
One man not at Kingston Park when the Falcons squad returns in mid-June will be Sean Tomes.
The 29-year-old yesterday confirmed he will be leaving the club for a second time, having rejoined them two years ago from Bedford.
Tomes was part of the Newcastle squad which won promotion from the RFU Championship this time last year, but saw his first-team opportunities limited during the Premiership campaign.
Meanwhile, one future Falcon has left his old club with a major honour, Rotherham’s Argentinean back Juan Pablo Socino having this week been named RFU Championship player of the season.
The fly-half or centre booted the Titans into the promotion play-off semi-finals, saying: “It is amazing.
“I never thought it was on the cards. It was such a massive surprise. It is a huge honour, and the fact that it was voted for by my fellow players makes it even more special. I am very grateful.”