It’s a daunting task for a teenager trying to make it big in the sport of rugby league.
The case of trying to prove yourself at the highest level to try and forge a career in the game should not be taken lightly. But, some youngsters just seem to be much more ready for the big time.
Here are ten teenagers patiently waiting in the wings to be Super League’s next breakout star.
Mikey Lewis – Hull KR
Prior to September 2020, Mikey Lewis had played just twice for Hull KR – once in 2019 and once in the Challenge Cup in March 2020. Wind the clock forward to the end of last season and the diminutive halfback had chalked up another seven appearances. At just 19 years of age, the mantle to perform is heavy, but Lewis’ down-to-earth nature means little phases him. Watch out for him to have a stormer in 2021.
Lewis Dodd – St Helens
Another playmaker that is so highly thought of at his respective club is Lewis Dodd. At 19 years of age, the halfback or hooker is tipped for big things at St Helens, and, despite making just three appearances for the Lancashire side, current boss Kristian Woolf is determined to give the teenager a shot in 2021 even if Jonny Lomax and Theo Fages are in front of him.
Cain Robb – Castleford Tigers
Castleford’s conveyor belt of youth seems to have dried up in recent years with only Jake Trueman and Jacques O’Neill making the big time, but the Tigers do have a star in the making in 18-year-old Cain Robb. Robb joined Castleford from West Hull ARLFC, earning a spot in the England youth ranks. And, it’s clear that head coach Daryl Powell rates the hooker as he handed him a two-year full-time deal in January.
Josh Thewlis – Warrington Wolves
Riley Dean – Warrington Wolves
He may be on-loan at York City Knights for 2020, but Riley Dean has a big future ahead of him in the primrose-and-blue of Warrington. The halfback debuted in 2019 and added another appearance for the Wolves in 2020 against Salford where he scored one and set up another in a narrow 20-18 loss. Only 19, Dean fit in seamlessly, running the show in a confident manner, defying his tender age.
Connor Aspey – Salford Red Devils
Making his debut against Hull KR in 2020, 18-year-old Connor Aspey proved just how intelligent a brain he has at such a young age. The hooker helped run the show, demonstrating all the attributes that suggest he will go far in the game: a calm head, a great passing game and a willingness to defend. With a change in head coach in Richard Marshall, Aspey will be looking to impress even more in 2021.
Umyla Hanley – Wigan Warriors
A name that perhaps needs no introduction, the son of former star Ellery Hanley, Umyla has big shoes to step into at Wigan. But, the 18-year-old has the confidence and level-headedness to become his own player. The fullback played just once for the Warriors in 2020 – in a 42-0 drubbing by St Helens – but the baptism of fire will stand the teenager in good stead heading into 2021. Tipped for major honours in the future, Hanley will almost certainly be given another chance to showcase his talents in the upcoming campaign.
Kai Pearce-Paul – Wigan Warriors
Born in London, Kai Pearce-Paul made the difficult decision of moving north to Wigan in November 2019 after being relegated with the London Broncos. The second-rower had not made an appearance down at the capital club, but he stepped out in the cherry-and-white of Wigan once in 2020. Signing a four-year deal in 2019 summed up just how highly Wigan must think of him, so watch out for the rangy back-rower in the years to come.
Liam Tindall – Leeds Rhinos
Tindall made his debut for the Rhinos in round 14 of Super League last season against Catalans Dragons, almost scoring what would have been the try of the season. The winger added another two appearances to his name in 2020, registering a try against St Helens. Just 19 years of age, Tindall possesses unusually deceptive strength despite his wiry frame and he will be looking to use this yet again if he gets another chance.
Jack Broadbent – Leeds Rhinos
Another 19-year-old from Leeds, Jack Broadbent does have more experience on his side. Having played on-loan at both Featherstone and Batley in 2019, the utility man – Broadbent can play in the back-row, wing, centre and halfback – has also added three Leeds appearances to his name. It remains to be seen where his strongest position is, but the teenager will surely get a chance to prove where that role may lay in 2021.