The start of the new NRL season is just a few weeks away.
As we preview the new season, it is interesting to take a look at some of the game’s young players and to keep an eye on how they progress throughout the season.
I have picked out a player from all 16 NRL clubs that I feel will be worth looking out for when the season starts on the 11th of March.
Brisbane Broncos – Tesi Niu
Given the long-term injury to star centre Kotoni Staggs, 19-year-old Tesi Niu will have the chance to prove himself in the centres. The Broncos have been impressed with Niu’s progress so far during pre-season and he is regarded as one of the best young prospects in the game.
Canberra Raiders – Harry Rushton
Another English recruit for the Canberra Raiders, 19-year-old Harry Rushton will be looking to follow in the footsteps of other Englishmen who have made a name for themselves Down Under. Rushton will look to prove himself under head coach Ricky Stuart and will aim for as much game time as possible in 2021.
Canterbury Bulldogs – Kyle Flanagan
After a harsh exit from the Sydney Roosters in the off-season, Kyle Flanagan will hope to make his former side rue their decision to let him go. Flanagan will have a lot on his shoulders in 2021 as he aims to prove himself under new Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett and it will be interesting to see what he produces.
Cronulla Sharks – Ronaldo Mulitalo
Cronulla’s Ronaldo Mulitalo made 14 appearances in 2020 and notched up 12 tries. In a short period of time, the 20-year-old has managed to become one of the most promising wingers in the competition. We will look to keep an eye on how he improves from last season in the upcoming campaign.
Gold Coast Titans – David Fifita
A big-money signing in the off-season, new Titans recruit David Fifita will be hoping to take his new side to a new level in 2021. Despite being one of the more experienced players on this list, Fifita is still only 20-years-old and will be looking to develop his game under highly-impressive head coach Justin Holbrook.
Manly Sea Eagles – Josh Schuster
Manly youngster Josh Schuster made just one appearance for his club last season, but was able to make his mark on the game as Benji Marshall described his performance as the best debut he had ever seen. Schuster will have a difficult time fighting for a starting position in the Manly side when the season starts, but we should expect to see a lot more of the 19-year-old as the season progresses.
Melbourne Storm – Harry Grant
No player in the NRL may carry as much pressure on his shoulders in 2021 as Harry Grant. After an excellent rookie season with the Wests Tigers last year, the 22-year-old will take over the number 9 role from maybe the greatest player to play the game, Cameron Smith. Plenty of eyes will be on Grant as he hopes to continue his form in the upcoming season.
New Zealand Warriors – Chanel Harris-Tavita
Warriors halfback Chanel Harris-Tavita will look to strengthen his partnership with Kodi Nikorima in 2021, and, after the Warriors bolstered their side in the off-season with the signings of Addin Fonua-Blake and Ben Murdoch-Masila, it will be interesting to see how the 21-year-old will fare off the back of their improved forward pack.
Newcastle Knights – Dom Young
The second Englishman to make the list is Newcastle Knights’ new recruit Dominic Young. Though it might take time for the 19-year-old to settle into his new surroundings and to develop his game in a new country, he has a great opportunity to make his way into the starting line-up in 2021 as the Knights are yet to find a consistent performer at right centre.
North Queensland Cowboys – Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow provided a scintillating display at last year’s NRL Nines tournament and was able to earn a regular place in the starting 13 for the Cowboys towards the end of last season. The 19-year-old speedster will look to cement a position on the wing for the Cowboys in 2021.
Parramatta Eels – Haze Dunster
21-year-old Haze Dunster was somewhat thrown in at the deep-end at the back end of last season and was forced to make his debut in the Eels’ biggest game of the year. There is no doubt that Dunster will see more game time in the upcoming season and it will be interesting to see how he performs and whether he can force his way into the starting line-up.
Penrith Panthers – Charlie Staines
Young Penrith Winger Charlie Staines had a debut to remember in 2020 crossing the whitewash four times in his first 80 minutes in the NRL. After signing a three-year contract extension, Staines has now been given the opportunity to become a regular starter for the Panthers and with his natural try-scoring ability, he will definitely be one to keep an eye on in the upcoming season.
South Sydney Rabbitohs – Keaon Kolomatangi
Keaon Kolomatangi was excellent for the Rabbitohs last season, averaging more than 100m per game and over 50 post-contact metres per game. With another pre-season under his belt, it is exciting to see how much he will improve in 2021.
St George Illawarra Dragons – Cody Ramsey
Cody Ramsey made quite the impression at the NRL Nines tournament last February, and after making three appearances at the back end of last season, including a debut in which he notched up two tries, the 21-year-old will look to compete for a regular place in the starting 13 in 2021.
Sydney Roosters – Sam Walker
Despite not being expected to start the season at half-back for the Sydney Roosters, it is highly likely that Sam Walker will at some point get a chance in the starting line-up. Regarded as one of the game’s top young prospects, the 18-year-old will be one to keep an eye on once he makes his anticipated NRL debut.
Wests Tigers – Shawn Blore
Wests’ Tigers forward Shawn Blore made a fiery start to his NRL career last year when he went head-to-head with Eels’ Nathan Brown. Despite it being his very first appearance in the NRL, the 20-year-old didn’t take a backwards step and it will be interesting to see how the former Junior Kangaroo performs in the upcoming campaign..