NRL rookies to watch at your club
FROM a teenager labelled 'The Gifted One' to a youngster so prodigious he played in the Prime Minister's XIII last month without a single NRL game to his name, we take a look at the brightest up-and-coming rookies at your club.
You can add Carrigan's name to the long list of boom forwards being produced at Red Hill. Carrigan doesn't concern himself with the fancy stuff, he's a middle forward who says he loves the contact and physicality of playing up front. The Easts Tigers junior captained the Emerging Maroons squad in their win against NSW earlier this year.
Canberra's pack will be without giants Shannon Boyd and Junior Paulo in 2019 but Guler is shaping as a ready-made replacement. Standing at 191cm and weighing 110kg, Guler will no doubt be pushing for a regular start in Ricky Stuart's 17. The Sydney-born prop earned state and national representative honours, playing in the Emerging Origin game and for the Junior Kangaroos in 2018.
A match-winning play from Harper in the Bulldogs' win against the Jets delivered the Instrust Super Premiership trophy to Belmore. The elusive and quick-footed Harper was earmarked by departing veteran centre Josh Morris as the rookie mostly likely to crack NRL in 2019. He'll have to challenge the likes of new recruits Nick Meaney and Christian Crichton for a place in the top side.
You get the feeling if Flanagan was at another club he'd have more than a single NRL match to his name. But the coach has made sure not to rush his young son, who captained the NSW residents this year. He'll see a lot more game time in 2019 with coach Flanagan looking to play Kyle off the bench in a utility role.
Whitbread doesn't like talking about the fact he was born in Queensland because he has since gone on to represent NSW at the under 16s and 18s level. The young forward played one game of NRL this year and with an impressive pre-season could land him a bench spot in 2019.
Waddell's late father, Steve, was known for his on-field toughness. He once packed a scrum with a dislocated shoulder while playing for the Panthers. Corey has inherited that same sense of toughness and is developing into a no-nonsense workhorse forward. He's got the entire summer to press his case for a chance at a bench spot come round one.
Position: Second row
Born in NSW but raised in Queensland, Fa'asuamaleaui is a product of the Broncos junior system. Coach Craig Bellamy didn't know how to pronounce the teenager's name when he first showed up in Melbourne. One thing he did know was that this teenager, standing at 197cm and weighing 107kgs, has the all the makings of an NRL forward - big, strong and aggressive.
Fermor spent two years at Melbourne before being lured to Newcastle where he played across the under-20s competition and the ISP. He was named the 2018 Jersey Flegg Player of the Year. The Dalby junior is a hard-running edge backrower that has a knack for finding a hole. His standout year was rewarded with a two-year contract extension.
Position: Five eighth/halfback
Even the great Johnathan Thurston is excited about the prospects of this playmaker on the rise. Coach Paul Green now has the tough task of deciding if he keeps his spot in the 17 with Te Maire Martin likely to be Michael Morgan's halves partner in 2019. The Tully Tigers junior showcased the extent of his talent with a man-of-the-match performance in the under 20s State of Origin, scoring two brilliant individual tries.
Stuck behind Dally M Player of the Year Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and halfback Shaun Johnson, it might be a while before we see the electric back in first grade. Despite being contracted until the end of 2020 at the Warriors, the sevens and schoolboys rugby star is still attracting plenty of attention from Super Rugby sides keen to lure him back to union.
He's not a like-for-like replacement for Semi Radradra but the comparisons are coming in thick and fast. It's easy to see why when the Fijian flyer is 192cm tall and weighs 103kg. Like Semi before him, Sivo has been making a habit of trampling over his opponents on the way to the tryline.
Aekins burst onto the scene to claim the 2018 Intrust Super Premiership Player of the Year award in his first season in reserve grade. He averaged 190 metres per game and accumulated 1280 post-contact metres. He played one NRL game this year and ran for a staggering 277 metres. New coach Ivan Cleary will have a hard time keeping Aekins out of his top side in 2019.
How good is Allan? This year he become the first player to be picked in the Prime Minister's XIII before making his NRL debut. The speedy fullback known for his ability to find the line and will be pushing for a spot in South Sydney's starting back five.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA
We were introduced to Lomax and his exploits at the back of the season and in the finals series. Blues coach Brad Fittler is filled with praise for Lomax and even calls him 'The Gifted One'. As well as packing plenty of size and strength, he's also a sharp shooter with the boot.
Coach Trent Robinson has added Butcher to his top 30 squad this year but at only 18 it's unlikely he'll rush his development into the NRL. The five-eighth turned forward, who is one of hottest teenage prospects, is already physically bigger than his older brother and teammate Nat.
The Keebra Park product stands at 194cm and at 20 years old is still growing into his massive frame. He has been promoted into the top 30 roster from the development squad this year edging him a step closer to his first-grade debut. Mikaele was named in the Under 20s Emerging Maroons side this year but missed the game through injury.