Category Archives: U20’s Watch

2016 Rookie Halves to watch

The halves are not a regular scoring position in NRLCEO. They can be quality one week and then quiet for the next two. But then all points count, so you should never leave an empty position in your team!

That’s where rookie halves come in. Often there will be an introduction of rookie halves for two or three weeks at a time which can help fill your needs during the representative season or injuries.

Here are eight rookies I believe could make an impact in the 2016 NRL season in the halves positions:

 

Te Maire Martin: (Halfback, Five Eighth)

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Penrith young gun Te Maire Martin could be a chance of making the Panthers’ round one NRL line-up with the uncertain fait of Peter Wallace with new coach Anthony Griffin and a possible move of Matt Moylan moving to five eighth. Martin played 50 games in the NYC and scored 17 tries and set-up many more. Is touted to be next in line for Griffin if the Soward/Moylan/Wallace combinations dont work. The Kid will get plenty of opportunities in 2016 with new coach Griffin.

 

Cronulla Sharks: Josh Cleeland

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The 24 year  five-eighth played an integral role in the Jets’ Queensland Cup premiership and State Championship success in the 2015 season. Cleeland’s one-year-deal with the Sharks comes as a reward for an outstanding 2015 season playing for an all-conquering Jets team in the Intrust Super Cup, where he lead the competition in both try and line break assists. Cleeland will add to the depth to the Sharks halves, complementing the earlier signings of James Maloney, Chad Townsend.

 

Newcastle Knight: Jack Cogger

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Will be Trent Hodkinson’s replacement whilst unavailable for NSW Representative duties (if he’s picked). Represented the Australian Schoolboys in 2014, the 18-year-old has been a star for Newcastle and managed to 21 games in the Holden Cup in 2015. Eligible to play in the Holden Cup until the end of 2017 but will get his opportunities in 2015.

 

Penrith Panthers: Zach Dockar-Clay

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Dockar-Clay  can play halfback and hooker and has represented the Junior Kiwis and NSW junior Origin teams.  Played 78 games in four years for Parramatta in the NYC sitting him the third-most capped player in under 20s history. Probably sits behind other rookie Te Maire Martin for a shot at Jamie Sowards position. Despite that the Captain of the Junior Kiwis still a good chance to make his debut in 2016.

 

Melbourne Storm: Scott Drinkwater

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Melbourne have secured the services of outstanding Australian Schoolboys half-back Scott Drinkwater with the hope he will take over play-making duties from Cooper Cronk. The Storm have signed Drinkwater on a three-year deal. The 18-year old possesses a number of the natural talents that make a talented halfback and will be able to learn from the best when he links up with Storm star Cooper Cronk. A kid to lookout for in 2016.

 

Manly Sea Eagles: Nicholas Hynes

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With the Sea Eagles lacking depth in the halves, Hynes is a huge chance to make an appearance if Daly Cherry-Evans and/or Dylan Walker become unavailable due to Origin commitments. Will have other challenges for the job though, with the injury-prone Tim Moltzen who joined the club in 2016. But Definitely a Huge chance for this kid to Debut in 2016.

 

Gold Coast Titans: Karl Lawton

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Has emerged as an unlikely contender for one of the vacant Gold Coast ­Titans halves positions. Lawton, 20, posses strong running game and is ready to compete in the NRL, he backs his ability to take on the defensive line with his speed, step and strength. Another option for coach Neil Henry if the Ash Taylor experiment fails.

 

Top Articles from Fantasy Football Nuts:

  1. The top fantasy guns in 2016

  2. NRL fantasy team previews

  3. 2016 NRL player movements

2016 Rookie Backrowers to watch

A solid backrow is crucial to a quality NRLCEO side, but unless you draft forwards hard out straight away you often find yourself one of two backrowers short. That’s where the free agency pool and the rookies come into play. If you can spot a young backrower that is going to meet the crucial qualifications of 40+ tackles and hitups on a regular basis then you have struck gold!

Here are 15 Rookies I believe could make an impact in the 2016 NRL season in the backrow.

 

Wests Tigers: Josh Aloiai

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Aloiai is a former Junior Kiwis representative and joins Wests Tigers after two seasons with the Parramatta Eels in both Under 20’s and NSW Cup. A powerful backrower who has had two impressive NYC seasons and is a star in the making. With the ability to slot in anywhere in the forward pack, expect a big season from Josh who is keen to make up for an injury-interrupted 2015 with the Eels. Is expected to debut for the Wests Tigers in 2016.

 

Sydney Roosters Nat Butcher

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Take a look at the junior representative honours of Nat Butcher to get a snapshot of what this kid is capable of; six Tests for Australia (2013-14), World Cup (2013), Four Nations (2014), five games for NSW (2013-2015), Country Origin (2013). At just 18 years of age the young second-rower already has an impressive resume and has been given a shot to train fulltime with the Roosters NRL squad ahead of the 2016 season. The Australian Schoolboy has a big future ahead, and any Roosters fans will be looking forward to his debut.

 

Cronulla Sharks: Kurt Capewell

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The 22-year-old signed a two year deal with the Cronulla Sharks starting from the 2016 Season. His size, explosive speed and footwork proved a nightmare for the opposition as he regularly tore holes in rival defensive lines. Capewell made a huge impression after switching to second row from centre in the Queensland Cup last season. The former Roosters and Broncos Under-20s star is one to watch down at the Shire if he gets his opportunity.

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs: Angus Crichton

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Angus Crichton joined the Rabbitohs in 2015 following a decorated schoolboy rugby union career at The Scots College in Sydney. Played a role in the Club’s 2015 Auckland Nines victory. Named in the New South Wales Under 20s Origin pathways squad, Crichton only made six appearances in the Holden Cup side due to a hand injury but managed to score three tries in 2015. Crichton will be looking to land himself a place in Michael Maguire’s top 17 in 2016. Will get his opportunity in 2016 and should grab it with both hands and become a regular.

 

Parramatta Eels: Tyrell Fuimaono

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Named in the NSWRL Under-20s pathway squad, the high-powered and productive second-rower loves to bust through the line or hit the line and get away an offload. Fuimaono averaged over 160 metres per game and threw 25 offloads. Still eligible for the under-20s, but expect opportunity in First Grade to come his way in 2016.

 

Canberra Raiders: Tevita Pangai Junior

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We highlighted Pangai in our 2016 Clubs best Rookie Prospect segment recently, the nineteen-year old lock/prop has spent the last three years playing in the Holden Cup, where in In 38 games, Pangai scored 18 tries. A hard working kid that has impressed the Raiders coaches staff. One of the best players in last year’s NSW Cup and if he resigns with the Raiders will certainly make his debut in 2016. But if he signs with the Broncos as rumoured then he’ll be playing another year of reserve grade.

Wests Tigers: Jesse Parahi

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Parahi has been a mainstay of the Australian Rugby Sevens team since making his debut in 2010, notching up 33 caps to date. The 26-year-old captained the Australian squad during various IRB World Series tournaments and won a bronze medal in the 2014 Commonwealth games tournament. Scored 25 tries from 33 games for the Australian men’s sevens team and will looking to convert his star power to rugby league with the Wests Tigers. He will play for Jason Taylor in 2016 – just a matter of when.

 

Newcastle Knights: Jacob Saifiti

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After a strong season with the U20s Knights playing in the front and back row, Jacob stepped up to play NSW Cup late in the season, contributing to the team’s premiership win. Play 15 games in the NSW Cup in 2015 and his sheer physicality has served him well in his first pre-season training stint with the NRL squad.

 

Cronulla Sharks: Jesse Sene-Lefao

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Sene-Lefao signed a two year contract with the Sharks, starting from 2016 after he was released from his final year of his contract with Manly. The hard-running 25-year-old will join the Sharks after playing 38 NRL games since making his debut for the Sea Eagles back in round one of the 2013 season and has also represented Samoa in three Test matches. A late bloomer as an NRL player, Sene-Lafao played 11 top grade games for Manly in 2015 scoring two tries. He adds size and versatility to the Sharks pack, with Sene-Lafao equally adept at playing prop or in the second row and adds add depth to Cronulla’s ageing pack. A very handy signing from coach Shane Flanagan.

 

New Zealand Warriors: Toafofoa Sipley

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Sipley is another young talent off the production line that is St Paul’s College. In addition to representing his school, Toafofoa shot through the ranks at the Richmond Rovers. Breakthrough came in 2013 when he earned a place in the Vodafone Junior Warriors squad and the NZ Residents 18s for their Australian tour. Sipley took the field on 10 occasions in his debut season for the club, bringing a strong work ethic to the prop position. With Ryan Hoffman and Jacob Lillyman both set for Origin call-ups, Sipley is expected to debut for the Warriors during this period.

 

Melbourne Storm: Joe Stimson

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Stimson is the current U20 Thunderbolts captain and agreed signed a two year deal with the Storm. He claimed Storm’s Best U20s Forward honours two years running, highlighting his rapid growth in the youth competition. Stimson is extremely versatile player who crossed for eight tries and converting nine goals during his NYC career. Probably won’t move up to first grade this year – watch for him in the future.

 

 Brisbane Broncos: Caleb Timu

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CALEB Timu will return to the Broncos after completing a two-year Mormon Mission in the South Pacific. He is a very talented member of the Broncos’ Under 20s squads of Seasons 2012 and 2013, and represented the Queensland Under 20s in the back row. Ipswich product Timu, now 21 years old, had attracted interest from rugby union but ultimately wanted to return to Red Hill and make up for lost time at the Broncos with his power game. Touted as the next Gordon Tallis of the club, Wayne Bennett and the Broncos faithful would be delighted if that would come true.

 

Gold Coast Titans: Oshae Tuiasau

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Representing Queensland Under-20s in 2015, Oshae is a back-rower who can score tries. He is one of the most exciting young talents at the Gold Coast Titans and is destined to make his debut in 2016. Stuck behind the pecking order of Greg Bird, Chris McQueen and Ryan James, his all-round talent could see Tuiasau make his debut while Bird and McQueen are absent on representative duties.

 

Top Articles from Fantasy Football Nuts:

  1. The top fantasy guns in 2016

  2. NRL fantasy team previews

  3. 2016 NRL player movements

2016 Rookie Hookers to watch

Find a quality hooker and you’re well on your way to a quality NRLCEO side. The trouble is when you’re looking for a young hooker than the incumbent is usually very established, so rookies don’t come around very often.

In saying that, here are five rookies I believe could make an impact in the 2016 NRL season at hooker on the back of Origin duties and injuries.

 

Brisbane Broncos: Jayden Berrell

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Broncos coach Wayne Bennett values work ethic in his players and his under-20s hooker Jayden Berrell is all that and more. A Junior Kangaroos and Queensland under-20s representative this season, Berrell was one of five Broncos players named in the Holden Cup Team of the Year will join the Broncos’ full-time squad in the 2016 pre-season. Averaging 29 tackles per game, Berrell also boasts 16 line-break assists and 17 try assists in 24 games. A injury to Andrew McCullough and Berrell will be knocking on Bennett’s door, asking ‘To put me in Coach’.

 

Melbourne Storm: Slade Griffin

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In age Giffin is no rookie but in numbers played in the NRL (10) we still class the 25-year-old as a rookie in the NRL. A third ACL injury in four years cut Slade Griffin’s 2015 season short, forcing the hard working forward off the field for the majority of the year. As the only notable hooker behind Cam Smith, Griffin will play an important role during the year for the Storm throughout the difficult Origin period. He provide support in play-making roles for Craig Bellamy’s side.

 

Penrith Panthers: Sione Katoa

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In 2015, Katoa graduated on to the Panthers’ New South Wales Cup team and captained the side later on. Played for the Junior Kiwis against the Junior Kangaroos. A injury to James Segeyaro and this kid will become an 80 minute player in 2016, as Katoa is the only other hooker in the Panthers’ top 25. A 2016 debut from Katoa is almost a certainty, the question is when?

 

Top Articles from Fantasy Football Nuts:

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2016 Rookie Props to watch

Rookie props are a rare commodity in NRLCEO. For those of you in keeper leagues you try and pick them up before the others know about them because if you get it right they can give you years of good service. On the other hand, props take longer than any other position to develop. So keep an eye on these names for the future.

Here are 12 rookies I believe will make an impact in the 2016 NRL season at prop.

 

New Zealand Warriors: Bunty Afoa

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Winner of the Vodafone NYC Player of the Year and winner of the prestigious Sonny Fai Medal at the Vodafone Warriors’ 2015 NYC awards. Averaging 111 metres and 29 tackles a game Afoa is a raging bull. The 19-year-old is still eligible for the NYC next year after two impressive seasons in the competition, but Coach McFadden may call on him sooner.

 

Brisbane Broncos: Jai Arrow

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A powerful forward, who captained the young Broncos last year, and also played for the Junior Kangaroos. Arrow won Best Forward, Player’s Player and Player of the year for the Broncos under-20s team was named starting ‘Lock’ in the 2015 Holden Cup Team of the Year. A strong-running lock, Arrow will move into the Broncos’ senior squad next season after completing his final year in the NYC. Corey Parker’s Future replacement.

 

Wests Tigers: JJ Felise

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Felise has been tipped to be our rookie of the season for the West Tigers. On six occasions in the NYC season Felise ran at least 170 metres, including a massive 280-metre effort in Rd 23 against Newcastle (Crazy).  With the loss of Martin Taupau, Felise is ear-marked for his replacement and might be the forward the Tigers desperately need.

 

Tevita Pangai Junior

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We highlighted Pangai in our 2016 Clubs best Rookie Prospect segment recently, the nineteen-year old lock has spent the last three years playing in the Holden Cup, where in In 38 games, Pangai scored 18 tries. A hard working kid that has impressed the Raiders coaches staff. One of the best players in last year’s NSW Cup. The biggest speed bump in his development will be if Ricky Stuart decides to leave him in reserve grade all year if he officially signs for the Broncos.

 

Manly Sea Eagles: Liam Knight

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Manly fans get excited, this 20-year-old averaged 35 tackles and over 190 metres per game. The hard working Knight won Manly’s under-20s Best and Fairest award. A pre-season injury (broke foot) may delay Knight NRL debut, this kid could play in 2016 for Manly Sea-Eagles, however does have a lot of forwards to compete with including Luke Burgess, Blake Leary, Darcy Lussick and Josh Starling he will need to impress new coach Trent Barrett.

 

Cronulla Sharks: Jesse Sene-Lefao

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Sene-Lefao signed a two year contract with the Sharks, starting from 2016 after he was released from his final year of his contract with Manly. The hard-running 25-year-old will join the Sharks after playing 38 NRL games since making his debut for the Sea Eagles back in round one of the 2013 season and has also represented Samoa in three Test matches. A late bloomer as an NRL player, Sene-Lafao played 11 top grade games for Manly in 2015 scoring two tries. He adds size and versatility to the Sharks pack, with Sene-Lafao equally adept at playing prop or in the second row and adds add depth to Cronulla’s ageing pack. A very handy signing from Coach Shane Flanagan.

Cronulla Sharks: Harrison Muller

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Muller took home the ‘Gavin Miller’ player of the year award for Cronulla in the NYC. The Front-rower averaged 25 tackles a game last season and also averaged 10 metres per run. Injuries to Gallen or Fifita may open the door for their young work-horse, may get opportunities throughout the State of Origin period.

 

South Sydney Rabbitohs: Zane Musgrove

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The Auckland-born prop is set to play in the Auckland 9’s and the Charity Shield. Played two seasons in the Club’s Holden Cup side, proving his worth with some big charges and hits and has been elevated to the club’s first grade squad. Musgrove will be looking to make a spot in first grade his own in 2016 and coach Maguire may give him every chance to do so if he can stay healthy.

Gold Coast Titans: Leivaha Pulu

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Born in New Zealand, Pulu played his junior footy with the Marist Brothers Saints, a prop, Pulu previously was contracted to the Wests Tigers and Sydney Roosters but failed to make his NRL debut. Leivaha Pulu has played the past three seasons with Wyong Kangaroos and has joined the Titans to chase his NRL dream. A chance to make his 2016 during when State of Origin players are unavailable.

Newcastle Knights: David Saifiti

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Played 21 games in the NSW Cup the towering front-rower graduated from Newcastle’s Under-20s to the full-time NRL training squad in the space of 12 months with his twin brother Jacob. Injuries to Kade Snowden or the Sims Brother could pave the way for the 19-year-old giant to make his first grade debut in 2016. Which one he is in the photo above is anyone’s guess.

 

New Zealand Warriors: Toafofoa Sipley

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Sipley is another young talent off the production line that is St Paul’s College. In addition to representing his school, Toafofoa shot through the ranks at the Richmond Rovers. Breakthrough came in 2013 when he earned a place in the Vodafone Junior Warriors squad and the NZ Residents 18s for their Australian tour. Sipley took the field on 10 occasions in his debut season for the club, bringing a strong work ethic to the prop position. With Ryan Hoffman and Jacob Lillyman both set for Origin call-ups, Sipley is expected to debut for the Warriors for this period.

 

Nth Queensland Cowboys: Braden Uele

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It will be a hard task to break into the reigning premiers forward pack, but the 20-year-old prop made close to 12 metres per run in the NYC, which ended up earning a spot in the Queensland Cup in 2015. Played Junior Kiwis this year and has headed north from the Sydney Roosters. One to watch.

 

Top Articles from Fantasy Football Nuts:

  1. The top fantasy guns in 2016

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Each NRL clubs best rookie prospect for 2016

Rookie Watch

We’d like to introduce a new blogger to the team! Meet Granty – he’s a football nut. Even more so, he’s a fantasy football nut! So much so that he’s started his own blog called Fantasy Football Nuts (great name right?!). This year he’s going to be your eyes and ears on the ground to spot the next big thing so that you can draft them before your mates do. 

This first article will focus on the best rookie prospects at each NRL club. You’ve heard of Latrell Mitchell and Tevita Pangai-Junior, but there is a sprinkling of gold amongst the rest of the squads below.

As always make sure you leave a comment to make Granty feel loved by the NRLCEO community and ask questions for future editions.

 

BRONCOS – JAI ARROW (Lock)

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The 19-year old had 18 games where he ran for more then 150 metres in the National Youth Cup (NYC) in 2015. Arrow won Best Forward, Player’s Player and Player of the Year for the Broncos Under-20s team. With Dodds and Garbutt departing the club, it leaves room for Arrows on Brisbane’s bench. A rookie to keep your eye on.

 

BULLDOGS – MARCELLO MONTOYA (Wing)

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Marcello is a lightning quick winger who broke the line 23 times in the NYC last season, scoring 14 tries in 17 games. Player to keep in mind if named for the Bulldogs in Rd.1 on the wing. Should get his opportunity in 2016.

 

COWBOYS – BRADEN UELE (Front-Row)

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It will be a hard task to break into the reigning premiers forward pack, but the 20-year-old prop made close to 12 metres per run in the NYC, which ended up earning a spot in the Queensland Cup in 2015. Played Junior Kiwis this year and has headed north from the Sydney Roosters. One to watch.

 

DRAGONS – MATTHEW DUFTY (Fullback)

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This kid will play first grade and will play it very soon. Very talented back who played in the pre-season trial match for the Dragons last year and impressed coaches. Didn’t manage to crack into the first grade side during regular season. Scored 11 tries in the NYC for the Dragons in 2015.

 

EELS – TYRELL FUIMAONO (Second-Row)

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Named in the NSWRL Under-20s pathway squad, the high-powered and  productive second-rower loves to bust through the line or hit the line and get away an offload. Fuimaoni averaged over 160 metres per game and threw 25 offloads. Still eligible for the under-20s, but expect opportunity in first grade to come his way in 2016.

 

KNIGHTS – LACHLAN FITZGIBBON (Second-Row)

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Finally, Newcastle Knight fans have something to be excited about. Fitzgibbon dominated in the Knights NSW Cup-winning side last season, winning their Player of the Year award. Debuted with the Knights in Rounf 21 against the Dragons. Expect to get more playing time with new coach Nathan Brown taking the reins in 2016. Big future for this young kid.

 

PANTHERS – TYRONE MAY (Fullback/Five-Eighth)

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Incoming Coach Anthony Griffin would be excited about having Tyrone May on his list. The kid prefers to play fullback, but unless there is an injury to Matt Moylan, that will not happen. Set up 21 tries and broke through 65 tackles in the NYC last season. The Panthers have to find somewhere in their back-line to utilize this kid as he is going to be a star.

 

RABBITOHS – DAMON GOOLAGONG (Centre/Wing)

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By-passed the Under-20s and went straight into NSW Cup, scoring two tries on debut against Manly. Strong-running centre with a good build and plenty of pace. Goolagong scored 13 tries in 17 games last year, breaking the line 15 times. A rookie to keep a look out for in the 2016 NRL season.

RAIDERS – TEVITA PANGAI-JUNIOR (Back Row/Front Row)

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Damaging back-rower who has the explosive power that enables him to bust the defensive line regularly. Represented the Junior Maroons and Kangaroos in 2015. With the Raiders looking for front-rowers to complement a young pack brimming with potential, they may have the answer in Tevita Pangai.

 

ROOSTERS – LATRELL MITCHELL (Fullback)

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Considered one of the game’s biggest up-and-coming talents, the Roosters have pounced early and wrapped up his signature until the end of 2019. Tipped to eventually take Roger Tuivasa-Sheck’s spot at fullback in 2016 and has been labeled `the next Greg Inglis‘. That’s big wraps. The No.1 rookie to watch in 2016.

 

SEA EAGLES – LIAM KNIGHT (Front Row)

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Manly fans get excited, the 20-year-old averaged 35 tackles and over 190 metres per game. The hard working Knight won Manly’s under-20s Best and Fairest award. A pre-season injury (broke foot) may delay Knights NRL debut, but fantasy coaches get excited – this machine will play in 2016 for the Sea Eagles.

 

SHARKS – HARRISON MULLER (Front Row)

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Muller took home the ‘Gavin Miller’ player of the year award for Cronulla in the NYC. The front-rower averaged 25 tackles a game last season and also averaged 10 metres per run. Injuries to Gallen or Fifita may open the door for their young work-horse.

 

STORM– NELSON ASOFA-SOLOMONA (Front Row)

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The 20-year-old managed to play 11 games for the storm in 2015, his power, speed and raw potential already has the Storm excited. Asofa-Solomona finished the year strongly as he played a part in six out of Melbourne’s last seven games, including two finals. Played for the Junior Kiwis in 2014 and 2015, the youngster can seriously play the game. Asofa-Solomona should get a lot more opportunities in 2016, always handy to have a human wrecking ball coming off your bench.

 

TIGERS – JJ Felise (Front Row)

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Felise has been tipped to be our rookie of the season for the West Tigers. On six occasions in the NYC season Felise ran at least 170 metres, including a massive 280-metre effort in Rd 23 against Newcastle – crazy!  With the loss of Martin Taupau, Felise is ear-marked for his replacement and might be the forward the Tigers desperately need.

 

TITANS – GREG LELEISIUAO (Centre/Wing)

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The 18-year-old only played eight matches for the Gold Coast under-20s team and scored seven tries. Leleisiuao has freakish speed and the ability to break lines. Has a big future, wouldn’t be surprised to see him debut this season for the Titans with the departure of James Roberts. Keep your eyes on this Kid.

 

WARRIORS – BUNTY AFOA (Front Row)

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Winner of  the Vodafone NYC Player of the Year and winner of the prestigious Sonny Fai Medal at the Vodafone Warriors’ 2015 NYC awards. Averaging 111 metres and 29 tackles a game Afoa is a raging bull. The 19-year-old is still eligible for the NYC next year after two impressive seasons in the competition, but Coach McFadden may call on him sooner.

 

Top Articles from Fantasy Football Nuts:

  1. The top fantasy guns in 2016

  2. NRL fantasy team previews

  3. 2016 NRL player movements

NYC Graduates to watch in 2015

Jack Bird

When you’re in a competitive fantasy league like NRLCEO, being the first to sniff out a gun rookie can be the difference between making the finals and sitting at home in your undies crying into your bourbon and coke with nothing to do during finals but listen to your mates bragging.

Last year our preview unearthed several young stars who went on to make their NRL debuts including Zac Santo, Clinton Gutherson, Charly Runciman, Moses Mbye, Mitch Cornish, Luke Keary, Michael Lichaa, Matt Lodge and Bryce Cartwright. So let’s look at this year’s picks.

Jake Mamo was the NYC Players’ Player of the Year last season and leading tryscorer with 22 tries. The Knights are pretty flush for outside backs with Uate, McManus and the Mata’utia brothers all regular try scorers so he will spend a bit of time in reserve grade, but once he gets his chance the tries will come.

They already have a relatively young backline at the foot of the mountain, but keep an eye out for the name Waqa Blake if he gets a start in 2015. The usual comparisons to Greg Inglis have been made, but the rangy centre has speed to burn. Born in Fiji, Waqa might play first grade early on if Jamal Idris can’t get over his back injury and rest assured he will be a genuine try scorer.

Centres are always a tough position to fill and the Dragons might just have a rookie starting there in Round 1. The fittest player at the Dragons in preseason, Euan Aitken has impressed all the right people and seems set for a big career. He played in the Junior Kangaroos and a First Grade debut is inevitable, it’s just a matter of when.

This Eel might already have nine NRL games under his belt, but he’s still a graduate and many NRLCEOs will have their eye on when they think it’s appropriate to draft Tepai Moeroa. With three workhorses and three tries to his name in nine games he’s certainly one to draft. Just don’t go too early.

Jack Bird (pictured above) has ticked all the right boxes. He represented NSW at under 15, 16, 18 and 20s level. After a move to the Sharks in the off season he has the opportunity to stamp his mark on the NRL. He has played most of his junior career in the back row but the Sharks seem keen to play him in the centres. For a youngster he will probably score more points in the backs until he works on his motor anyway.

The Raiders have a history of producing quality juniors but they haven’t been able to retain then. After naming Junior Kangaroo Tevita Pangai in their Auckland 9’s squad many will be keeping a close eye on how he goes. There are a number of backrowers in their squad but only Fensom and Papalii are guaranteed a spot, so expect to see the giant backrower in the top grade at some stage this year.

In the front row, there is one young player whose motor will attract more attention than any others. We all know how valuable it can be to grab a workhorse late in the draft and this guy could just be your man. You might remember him as the c##t who wrote just that on his wristband in the 20’s State of Origin game. In three NRL games last year Matt Lodge averaged 1.26 involvements per minute which means he needs just 32 minutes to chalk up a workhorse. With a distinct lack of workhorses in the Tigers pack and big Keith Galloway only getting older, he’s worth a punt.

At 112kg and 186cm, Joe Ofahengaue already has the size to play NRL and he’s just 19. The Broncos are set to unleash him during the Auckland 9’s so we’ll get a good look at his motor. He ran for 200m in his last two games of the Holden Cup season, but it’s a different story against boys.

2014 Holden Cup Team of the Year

Tepai Moeroa

…and it all comes down to this. The final round.

With no real Holden Cup graduates I need to point you towards and let’s face it, you probably aren’t going to gamble on a rookie this week anyway, it might be a good time to cast an eye towards next year seeing as though the Holden Cup team of the year was announced earlier in the week.

  1. Jake Mamo (Newcastle Knights)
  2. Valentine Holmes (Cronulla Sharks)
  3. Sione Mata’utia (Newcastle Knights)
  4. Brendan Elliott (Sydney Roosters)
  5. Nene MacDonald (Sydney Roosters)
  6. Te Maire Martin (Wests Tigers)
  7. Drew Hitchison (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
  8. Andy Saunders (Penrith Panthers)
  9. Manaia Cherrington (Wests Tigers)
  10. Sam Lisone (New Zealand Warriors)
  11. Nelson Asofa-Solomona (Melbourne Storm)
  12. Tepai Moeroa (Parramatta Eels)
  13. Willie Meehan (Sydney Roosters)

Reserves:
14. Daniel Levi (Newcastle Knights)
15. Joseph Tapine (Newcastle Knights)
16. Addin Fonua-Blake (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
17. Kane Elgey (Gold Coast Titans)

We’ve seen a fair few of these players in the NRL already and we will continue to see them for many years to come.

We haven’t seen Sam Lisone in the NRL and I have to tell you he is one of my favourite players. The Warriors annoyed me last year when they persisted to use him as a bench player. He added plenty of spark as a hard and straight running second rower. 2014 has been even better for Lisone. Lisone has star quality and could find himself in the NRL in a couple of years.

Kane Elgey is a talented half at a club with little depth. Unfortunately for us Elgey reportedly doesn’t have the best attitude and as far as I know hasn’t been offered a NRL contract. Elgey can be hot and cold during the season but when he is hot he is one of the best half backs in the game. Hopefully Elgey sticks with the game, as he matures and develops to control a game he could prove to be a CEO favourite!

A new favourite of mine is Te Maire Martin. Martin is showing the skills that got Moses and Brooks the wraps the deserved. Martin has some great skills and flair. The 20’s is a different game, especially for a half back. He will get some time in NSW Cup next year but if you had to pick a halfback for your fantasy side that has not made his debut you, I’d be putting all my chips on this kid!

Lastly I want to mention Andy Saunders. Saunders is the last of my favourite players that made the team of the year and he will be a CEO favourite mark my words. Saunders isn’t the biggest player running around the Holden Cup but he will be a work horse!

O Brother, Which One Should I Pick?

Matautia Brothers

Pauli Pauli was featured on Monday Night with Matty Johns as one of the biggest men in the NRL – which certainly isn’t a secret. The Eels play Newcastle this week in a winnable game as they are in good form and if you are desperate for a bench forward in your Semi Finals Pauli Squares might just get over the line. The Knights should bounce back a little from a flogging they received last week.

With the Mata’utai brothers (however you want to pronounce it) having a quiet week for Newcastle  as they got thumped by the Broncos, I would bet they score a lot more points this week. Both brothers are on the wing but Chanel probably has the brightest future despite Sione scoring a hat trick two weeks ago.

Over at the Dragons, the third of the Mata’utia brothers, Peter, takes on the Broncos himself. It’s once again up in Brisvegas and the Broncos are vying for a spot in the Top 8, so I still think Chanel is your best bet.

With ASADA giving out the suspension to the Sharks players do not touch any of their rookies because they are due for a couple of losses to finish their season. Grab Michael Lichaa next season when he steers the Bulldogs pack and grab Valentine Holmes once he moves to fullback. Holmes has scored just one try whilst playing on the wing.

In a battle of the U20’s Graduates on the big stage, Moses Mbye and Luke Keary face of again against each other on Thursday Night. Keary has try scoring freak Alex Johnston outside him while Mbye will be looking to Josh Morris in attack. Keary will most likely gain more points for CEO’s this week but as regular readers knowing I’m a big Mbye fan.

Lastly a rookie you will need to look out for in season 2034 is young Jack Bradnam. Congratulations to Mr NRLCEO himself Jamie Bradnam and his wife on their arrival of their future Raider.

NRLCEO Rookie of the Year?

Rookie of the Year

It’s about that time of year where we a start to cast our minds towards the NRLCEO Rookie of the Year.

So let’s go through the nominations…

At the start of the year we could have crowned Luke Brooks rookie of the year after the start they had but sadly his side has probably let him down. Brooks hasn’t been a let down and at times the rookie has looked deserving of the wraps he has, the best case scenario is that this average year buys him some darkness from the media and he can be left to develop into a rep player.

David Fusitua caught me by surprise, it was in this column I told everyone that he didn’t strike me as an NRL winger. Boy have I eaten humble pie every time the athletic winger has had spectacular finish on the highlight reels. Despite all this he wouldn’t win the rookie of the year. He made the NRLCEO Dream Team last week and has a great try strike rate.

The “new Hindy” Tepai Moeroa has had a good start to his NRL career as well and it’s worth putting in a few potential workhorses in here considering the importance of these players in NRLCEO.

Pauli Pauli is one to watch in the future, but he’s really not NRLCEO relevant at the moment. He doesn’t get the involvements for a workhorse and whilst he is good for the occasional try, he doesn’t have the flexibility of a double position like Dave Taylor.

At this rate the Mata’utai brothers could all be in the running for next years award. I find it amazing how 3 brothers all hit the NRL at the same time. Newcastle will need Chanel for their Holden Cup campaign when the finals start. Chanel could be lifting a trophy at the end of the year but I don’t think it’ll be the rookie of the year.

Should Moses Mbye get a nomination? Sadly not after being one of the players I talked up all year, but just not getting the game time due to the strong Dogs halves and injuries to himself.

If Brenko Lee played more footy this year he could have been a chance. Three tries in his first four games is under his Holden Cup record, but that’s to be expected.

Jake Mamo is in a similar boat. After scoring a hat trick in the U20’s Origin a lot of CEOs jumped on him when named, but two tries in seven games is hardly setting the world alight!

I think the rookie of the year this year is a current CEO favourite. With an amazing strike rate for tries with his blinding speed, Alex Johnston has scored an incredible 15 tries in his first 13 games. Johnston came from relative obscurity this year to take the NRL by storm not making my pre season rookie guide, he will be hard to draft next year that’s for sure!

Let’s see who takes the award in real life – I’m pretty sure it will be the young Rabbit.

Brilliant Baby Bunny Boys

Kirisome+Auva+NRL+Rd+9+Titans+v+Rabbitohs+R2n4iDV_cmml

South Sydney would surely have to be the “rookie team of the year.” The young outside backs at the Rabbitohs have not let the proud club down this year. Dylan Walker, Alex Johnston and Kirisome Auva’a could potentially be on the red and green’s team for the next 10 years. And while Souths don’t have the strongest juniors, they do have a quality lock, Cheyne Whitelaw, who is an absolute workhorse. Look for him to debut in 2016 – you can never be too prepared CEO’s!

Elsewhere around the league, Cronulla Sutherland continue their poor run of form and you would be a brave man to think it could change this week. Michael Lichaa, Fa’amanu Brown and Valentine Holmes are all talents I would consider putting into a real team but not into a NRLCEO fantasy side. Let’s wait until season 2015 and reassess their viability…

Finally one of my favourite players will be playing in position due to Grubs grubbiness. Moses Mbye will play 5/8 this week, and I assume would also be there for the following 3 weeks. If you had Josh Reynolds I would suggest a straight swap, and for anyone thinking about a new 5/8, Mbye has plenty of talent and could have potentially played the whole year at a couple of other clubs.