With the 2021 Super League season now just days away, we’ve put together a list of the rookies from each club who we think could break onto the scene over the next few months.
To qualify as a rookie, the player must have played less than 10 top-flight professional games, while we haven’t included players who were chosen among last year’s rookies to watch.
Here’s who we think you should look out for…
Castleford Tigers – Brad Martin
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Martin is one of three Tigers youngsters to pen professional contracts ahead of this year, alongside Brad Graham and Cain Robb. Signed from Leeds Rhinos’ academy in 2020, he made enough of an impression to be promoted into the first team within months and was given a debut in the Round 17 win over Hull KR. A stocky, hard-running forward, he’s operated both as a middle and edge runner throughout his career so far but has yet to find his best position. What that is could very much depend on the chances he’s given in the next couple of years but he’s certainly got potential in both areas.
Last year’s rookie: Joe Summers
Also keep an eye on: Sam Hall, Cain Robb, Archie Fletcher
Catalans Dragons – Arthur Mourgue
— Dragons Catalans (@DragonsOfficiel) September 14, 2019
Mourgue has been in and around the Dragons’ first team for the past three years, having made his Super League debut in 2018. The versatile back has been on the fringes of Steve McNamara’s squad since and last year put together his best run of games to date, appearing five times and scoring one try. With Catalans running with a smaller squad in 2021, and the likes of Lucas Albert and David Mead departing, 21-year-old Mourgue is set for a more prominent role in the side, giving him further opportunities to demonstrate his natural skill and creativity. He’s been handed the prestigious no.1 jersey ahead of the new campaign, which is a huge vote of confidence from McNamara.
Last year’s rookie: Gavin Marguerite
Also keep an eye on: Joe Chan, Corentin Le Cam, Mathieu Cozza
Huddersfield Giants – Owen Trout
Trout is one of the Giants’ more understated signings in the past couple of years but the former Leeds junior could prove to be a shrewd bit of business. The 21-year-old forward was a standout player throughout his youth career at the Rhinos, earning selection for the England academy and making his senior debut before joining Huddersfield last year. He ended up making six appearances in 2020, with his size and power matching that of the more experienced forwards opposite him. Ian Watson’s off-season recruitment means there’s plenty of competition for places in the pack but Trout has all the potential to push for a regular spot.
Last year’s rookie: Reiss Butterworth
Also keep an eye on: Ronan Michael, George Roby, Robson Stevens
Hull FC – Ben McNamara
⚫️⚪️It was a debut to remember last night for Hull FC’s Ben McNamara!🙌
— Sky Sports Rugby League (@SkySportsRL) October 2, 2020
Son of Catalans’ head coach Steve, McNamara showed glimpses of his talent in the latter stages of 2020, playing four games and scoring one try. The young halfback is already fairly well-travelled, having spent time in Sydney Roosters’ junior system while his father was on the senior coaching staff there. He showed plenty of confidence and composure in his fleeting appearances last season and has the benefit of Josh Reynolds as one of his mentors this year – a player not too dissimilar in attacking style.
Last year’s rookie: Jacob Hookem
Also keep an eye on: Jude Ferreira, Jacob Hookem, Kai Tyson
Hull KR – Anesu Mudoti
Young forward Mudoti would likely have made his Rovers debut last season but was hampered by a leg injury for most of the year. 2020 wasn’t a complete write-off though, with the 20-year-old playing a handful of games for the reserves side, which included a particularly eye-catching try against Huddersfield. He’s got plenty of power going forward and has a knack for bouncing off defenders, so it shouldn’t be too long before he’s handed a senior debut.
Last year’s rookie: Will Tate
Also keep an eye on: Will Tate, Charlie Cavanaugh, Tom Whur
Leeds Rhinos – Sam Walters
The Rhinos’ production line is famous for producing top talent and Walters is set to be the latest to roll off it. The 20-year-old joined Leeds from Widnes Vikings’ academy in 2019 and has since gone from strength to strength, winning the club’s Academy Player of the Year award in his first year, before making his Super League debut in 2020. Richard Agar has trimmed his squad ahead of this season, with several youngsters set for more prominent roles. A big, physical back rower, Walters is likely to be one of those, having caught the eye with his performances throughout pre-season.
Last year’s rookie: Muizz Mustapha
Also keep an eye on: Liam Tindall, Jarrod O’Connor, Jack Broadbent
Leigh Centurions – James Bell
The Centurions’ squad is light on youngsters but 26-year-old Bell is preparing for his first taste of Super League action, albeit unexpected. The former New Zealand Warriors junior signed from Toulouse before Leigh were confirmed as the 12th top-flight side but is set to play a key role under John Duffy, having been given the no.13 shirt. A nuggety, hard-working back rower, he’ll annoy opposition forwards with his relentless work in both attack and defence, and lay the platform for the backs to create scoring chances.
Last year’s rookie: N/A
Also keep an eye on: Craig Mullen, Josh Eaves (On loan from St Helens), Nathan Roebuck (On loan from Warrington)
Salford Red Devils – Sam Luckley
At 24, Luckley is the second oldest player on this list. A product of the excellent Newcastle Thunder academy, he’s developed a reputation as one of the top forwards outside of Super League in recent years and will finally have the opportunity to test himself in the top-flight. His powerful defence and ability to get his team on the front foot has seen him called up for Scotland and is the reason his services were so highly sought-after once he became available. It’s an unexpected opportunity, after he originally signed for Ottawa Aces before their entry to League One was deferred, but he’ll be keen to grab it with both hands.
Last year’s rookie: Connor Aspey
Also keep an eye on: Connor Aspey
St Helens – Jake Wingfield
How it started: How it’s going:
— Rugby Football League (@TheRFL) October 27, 2020
Wingfield would likely be higher up the Saints’ pecking order already if it wasn’t for an ACL injury that robbed him a year of development. Son of former Swinton, Leigh and Oldham forward Lee, the 19-year-old was rewarded for his patience and persistence in recovery with a Super League debut against Salford in October, giving fans a glimpse into what he’s capable of. A strong runner, expect him to follow a similar trajectory to the likes of Morgan Knowles and James Bentley, who have become mainstays in Kristian Woolf’s squad.
Last year’s rookie: Lewis Dodd
Also keep an eye on: Lewis Dodd, Nico Rizzelli, Tom Nisbet
Wakefield Trinity – Harry Bowes
Teenage hooker Bowes was an unexpected debutant towards the back end of last year but certainly held his own in Chris Chester’s side. Physically, he’s got a strong, athletic build and didn’t struggle in either attack or defence. There’s competition aplenty in the dummy half role at Trinity, with Kyle Wood, Josh Wood and Jordy Crowther all in front of the youngster but Bowes’ performances in the two appearances he made last year are likely to have left a lasting impression and have certainly put him in the first team frame for the upcoming campaign.
Last year’s rookie: Connor Bailey
Also keep an eye on: Yusuf Aydin, Ollie Greensmith, Dane Windrow
Warrington Wolves – Eribe Doro
Doro has been on the fringes of the Wolves’ side for a couple of years now, having first been called into the senior squad in 2018 as a 17-year-old. Two years on, he’s much more developed physically and has matured into one of the most dominant prop in his age group, finally making his debut against Castleford last year. With Warrington slightly lighter in the pack following several departures, Steve Price could rely on some of his younger forwards in 2021, meaning Doro could be set for an extended run in the team if he trains and performs well.
Last year’s rookie: Josh Thewlis
Also keep an eye on: Connor Wrench, Ellis Longstaff, Jacob Gannon
Wigan Warriors – Kai Pearce-Paul
Pearce-Paul is set to become the latest London-born talent to break onto the scene. Signed from London Broncos at the start of last season, the 20-year-old spent 2020 training with the first team before making his senior debut in September’s 42-0 loss to Wigan. With the likes of Sean O’Loughlin and Joe Greenwood departing, there’s room in the pack for several youngsters to step up, and this rangy back rower is tipped to be right at the front of the queue.
Last year’s rookie: Harry Smith
Also keep an eye on: Umyla Hanley, Sam Halsall, James McDonnell