We’re just about halfway through Super League XXVI, so right now it’s a good time to reflect on what has been a brilliant season of rugby so far.
I can remember few years with as many young talents on show as this one. Almost every club has unearthed a new starlet who has taken the competition by storm.
So, today we’re giving you the six best youngsters we’ve seen in Super League this season. For this list we’re looking at players exclusively under 21 and therefore eligible for the Young Player of the Year award.
6. Jason Qareqare
17 years old, still in school and destroying the Hull defence with one of the best debut tries you’ll ever see. Full of pace and agility, he could soon be one of the finest wingers in the league if that try is anything to go by. Making that score all the more impressive was the fact he was called in last minute from outside the 21-man squad meaning the Tigers lost a substitution. That pressure didn’t phase him and he came up with one of the moments of the season.
5. Connor Wrench
With Greg Inglis arriving at the Halliwell Jones, the already brilliant Toby King plying his trade at centre and the mercurial Jake Mamo settled in the backline, many believed that Connor Wrench wouldn’t be given a fair crack at the Warrington’s starting line-up. That hasn’t been the case and now that GI is finished playing, he could be afforded even more opportunities. He was particularly impressive against Wigan last week as he crossed for a try and continued to rip open the Wigan defence. He’s an exciting prospect indeed.
4. Morgan Gannon
Few 17-year-olds come into one of the most famous rugby teams on the planet and make a place in the side their own. In recent weeks Gannon has done that at the Rhinos. Despite the abundance of forwards Leeds have at their disposal, Gannon has established himself as part of the first team despite his young age. Having impressed on debut against St Helens in the Challenge Cup, he’s gone from strength to strength. He scored his first senior try against Castleford before making his first start against Leigh last week.
3. Josh Thewlis
Another Warrington starlet I feared wouldn’t be given much of a chance this term, the 19-year-old has more than impressed and at times forced seasoned veterans out of the side. For a long period, he was settled on the wing leaving Tom Lineham on the outside of the 17 but he has been particularly impressive since moving to his natural fullback position. It would have been quite easy for Steve Price to ask Jake Mamo to drop in at number one but instead Thewlis was trusted there and in the last few outings he has been superb in attack chiming in with great effect.
2. Jack Broadbent
How many 19-year-olds have scored four tries in one game? I wager not that many but that’s exactly what Broadbent did for Leeds against Leigh. In fact, since shifting onto the wing he’s been a try scoring machine poaching four-pointers against Castleford, Salford and the famous four against Leigh. When playing in his natural centre position he’s also looked superb scoring a try on the opening day of the season having created a superb score from a delightful break earlier in the game. He can even cover fullback with ease as well such is his wide range of skill.
1. Jack Welsby
Last year’s Grand Final hero has more than lived up to the hype in 2021. The young back looks headed for the Young Player of the Year award such is his quality and consistency at such a young age. Capable of playing and scoring anywhere across the backline, he’s arguably outshone the likes of Mark Percival and Kevin Naiqama at centre this term. Saints seem prepared to lose the likes of Naiqama and even Lachlan Coote this winter perhaps down to the quality Welsby possesses.