Rating the Super League clubs on their recent success in bringing through young players

Young players are the future of the sport of rugby league and teams pride themselves on bringing through talented youth to the first-team.

The likes of St Helens’ Jack Welsby, Catalans’ Arthur Mourgue and Wigan’s Kai Pearce-Paul are the names that people are currently talking about – as well as others from around the top flight – but just which Super League sides have the best crop of current youngsters?

1. Leeds Rhinos

It may be a surprising decision to place Leeds at the top, but there is a good explanation for this. Jack Broadbent, Sam Walters, Morgan Gannon, Jarrod O’Connor and Jack Sinfield are just some of the latest crop of youngsters that could well form part of the next ‘Golden Generation’ at Headingley. After playing a considerable amount of games in recent seasons due to COVID-19, this current conglomerate of teenagers and early 20-year-olds could well become some of the greatest of their generation.

2. St Helens

Name a better youngster in Super League at present than Jack Welsby. Mature beyond his years, the 20-year-old is a two-time Grand Final winner already with St Helens, whilst halfback Lewis Dodd has been granted the reins by head coach Kristian Woolf to take over from the departed Theo Fages. Add into that the likes of Jake Wingfield, Josh Simm and Ben Davies and Saints are in an incredible place going forward.

3. Wigan Warriors

Though Wigan endured a difficult last season under Adrian Lam in 2021, their young players will definitely be better for it. Remember, Morgan Smithies, for example, is only 21 years of age whilst London-born Kai Pearce-Paul is just 20. Harry Smith, Oliver Partington, Ethan Havard, Liam Byrne and Joe Shorrocks have also proved key in recent seasons, whilst there is much excitement surrounding James McDonnell, Umyla Hanley and Brad O’Neill. Watch this space for more youngsters getting game time for the Warriors in 2022.

4. Catalans Dragons

For years the Catalans Dragons have produced some incredible French talent from the likes of Thomas Bosc to Vincent Duport and now the current generation look even more impressive. Arthur Mourgue, a lightning fullback, has taken to Super League like a duck to water whilst Mathieu Laguerre enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2021. Corentin Le Cam, Mathieu Cozza, Cesar Rouge, Romain Franco and Joe Chan also made their debuts last season, with 17 of the Dragons’ 30-man squad being French nationals. The future is bright for Catalans and French rugby league.

5. Huddersfield Giants

Credit to Ian Watson and Huddersfield Giants, the youth system at the John Smith’s Stadium seems to have been working wonders in recent seasons with Will Pryce and Jake Wardle to name but two to progress to the first-team and establish themselves as electric, elusive stars. The Senior twins, Oliver Wilson and Sam Hewitt have impressed since progressing to the first-choice 17-man squad, whilst Fenton Rogers, Robson Stevens and Aidan McGowan are expected to have bright futures in the claret and gold.

6. Warrington Wolves

Warrington have already seen the likes of Josh Thewlis, Ellis Longstaff and Connor Wrench become embedded in the first-team set-up in past seasons and it will be up to new head coach Daryl Powell to bring more of the same through. Riley Dean, Eribe Doro, Morgan Burgess and Jacob Gannon have big things expected of them and we could see 2022 as the year that more progress into regular first-teamers. Tom Whitehead is also highly-rated.

7. Hull FC

The strength of Hull FC’s present youngsters was obvious in the Black and Whites’ loss to Bradford Bulls at the weekend when halfback Callum Rutland and Charlie Severs put in devastating performances, whilst Davy Litten celebrated a new deal with an accomplished display. Add into the mix Jacob Hookem, Aidan Burrell, Ben McNamara and Connor Wynne and FC are in good hands.

8. Castleford Tigers

Castleford have struggled in the early 2020s with bringing through youth stars into their first-team. Jacques O’Neill has been the one who has caught the eye, with Sam Hall the latest to be brought into the first-team. However, it seems as though new Tigers head coach Lee Radford is determined to help the young kids progress with Cain Robb and a number of other stars set to be handed squad numbers at the club’s event later in January.

9. Hull KR

Hull KR have one of the most obvious academy superstars in the whole league with Mikey Lewis in their ranks. The diminutive halfback ran riot in 2021 at just 20 years of age, helping Rovers to a semi-final play-off spot. And, Lewis will be better for the experience. The Robins also have Charlie Cavanaugh, Connor Moore, Daniel Okoro and Max Kirkbright waiting in the wings patiently for Tony Smith to grant them an opportunity.

10. Wakefield Trinity

2022 could be the year in which Wakefield Trinity’s youth prospects do the most damage. With Lee Kershaw already establishing himself in the first-team set-up, Trinity have a plethora of young stars in Jack Croft, Yusuf Aydin, Harry Bowes and Lewis Murphy ready to take their chances. And, with head coach Willie Poching determined to make his mark in Super League, there will almost definitely be some new heroes for those on the terraces at Belle Vue to shout about.

11. Salford Red Devils

Whilst Super League is perhaps littered with former Salford Red Devils academy players like Stefan Ratchford, their own squad does not seem to have too many. In fact, only Marc Sneyd was part of the club’s academy in the current first-team, with no young players from their own set-up given a shirt for 2022.

12. Toulouse Olympique

Toulouse Olympique haven’t really had any youngsters come through to the first-team in recent seasons with the exception of Mali-born Justin Sangare who is now 23 years of age. That will have to change if the French side are to create a legacy for a second tricolour in Super League.

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James
James
4 months ago

Hardly a like with like comparison when Academies are beyond the monies of some clubs and at other times denied to clubs by the RFL!

Mark H
Mark H
4 months ago

Can you get an article writer who isn’t obsessed with all things Leeds? How on earth you can put Leeds in front of Saints seeing as they’re now on their third league in a row, thanks mainly to academy products both new and old. Same with putting Headingley as the best ground when it has an open away end.