HUNTER Wildfires coach Scott Coleman reckons Tiueti Asi has only scratched the surface.
The powerhouse No.8 capped a roller-coaster end to the Shute Shield campaign by collecting the top gong, Wildfire of the Year, at the club's presentation night on Friday.
The fact he missed the Wildfires' 23-17 loss to Norths in play-offs still eats away at the Asi.
He was banned for six matches after being cited and found guilty of contacting the eye area of a player in the last round loss to Norths.
Coleman expects that disappointment to drive Asi to even greater heights next season.
"He is keen for next year," Coleman said. "He remains very frustrated about missing that game for something he didn't do.
"He is one of the stand out No.8s in the Shute Shield but there is still plenty in his game to develop. I'd like to see him bring ball-playing into his game more. There is scope for him to get better and better."
Asi played the majority of the 2022 campaign in second grade. A big off-season was the catalyst for breakout campaign in which he finished top five for offloads and one of the top 10 ball carriers in the competition.
"His attitude at training was better and he took a team-first approach to everything," Coleman said. "He got into pilates and different things to improve his flexibility. He is a competitor and started the season in strong form, and kept that going."
Hooker Andrew Tuala and back-rower Morgan Inness were joint winners of the best and fairest, Chlayton Frans was best forward and Tom Watson took out best back.
It was a breakout year for the Wildfires as a whole. The Shute Shield side made the finals for the first time and the women reached the post season for a second straight year.
However, Coleman was disappointed with the end to the season - dropping four of the last five games.
"We had a fair bit of mental burn out," Coleman said. "We have looked at the pre-season and how I shape the season proper.
"There are no easy games any more. It is 18 rounds of intense rugby. I have to look at rotating players and improving the depth in the club.
"We sustained two crucial injuries to Hamish Moore and Donny Freeman at the back end of the season which hurt us. We didn't have another genuine seven ready to step up. I have to look at blooding other players and get them ready in case incidents like that happen.
"We have pushed back the starting date of pre-season by two weeks and will look to get more coaching staff in to give us a different voice and different set of eyes."
Coleman is confident of retaining the majority of the side.
Freeman is midway through a short-term deal with the Western Force, prop Beau Abra is playing for Hawkes Bay in the New Zealand national provincial championships, Isi Fukofuka is playing the off-season in the USA, while Connor Winchester is in talks with USA MRL club Dallas and Watson could be headed to the United Kingdom.
Major Awards - Wildfire of the year: Tiueti Asi; Wildfires Spirit Award: Sammy Kolo. Beau Humphreys
First grade - Best and Fairest: Andrew Tuala, Morgan Innes; Best Forward: Chayton Frans, Best Back: Tom Watson
Second grade: Best and Fairest: Veni Vahai; Best Forward: Taufa Kinikini; Best Back: Ethan Morgan
Colts: Best and Fairest: Same Mitchell: Best Forward: Tom Jackson; Best Back: Brendan Palmer
Women: Best and Fairest: Emma Bradfrod; Best Forward: Shana Povey-Hyatt; Best Back: Kyah Little