Rookie Review


Rookie Review

By Smithy

Everyone’s talking about THAT try by Wests Tigers rookie winger Nofoaluma.  Absolutely incredible composure of the mind to go with a physical act that not many athletes could perform in their dreams!  We think every outstanding moment on the end of a kick now will be called “A NOFY”. It will take some beating.

Here’s what we said about him pre-season – “My bolter is David Nofoaluma – one very strong young dude with dynamite carries in yardage from the wing on kick returns and dummy half”.

Can I now add “and beware of his kick catches for tries!”

As I keep saying we have so many wonderful players, more and more of them with lifestyles to match the responsibilities that come with the opportunities they have chosen to pursue. And we keep producing more and more. Don’t let the death riders and whingers get you thinking otherwise.

Before the season started we had a crack at tipping the youngsters to keep an eye on across all the NRL clubs. Seems like a good time to review them and remember it might be season 2104 for some to break through. Don’t give up on them.

ROOKIES TO THE RESCUE – club by club -”what we said in preseason”  and how it looks at round 21.

RAIDERS – ‘wow, take your pick here. What a programme and production line the Raiders have. Wighton, Williams, McIlwrick, Lee, Matoroa, Papali, Fenson have all cracked via the junior reps to NRL route at Raiders. And more to come”

We certainly should have mentioned by name Anthony MILFORD and also could have mentioned current NRL winger Sami SAUILUMA. And still more to come from NYC players in future: Mitch Cornish and forwards Bateman/Mago/Pangai (Tevita).


WARRIORS – “like the Raiders, this is a smorgasbord! Perhaps a small criticism could be that for all that abundant young talent, not enough have graduated to NRL success. That could be because of recruitment focus on bringing in tradesmen-like Aussies over recent seasons or an area of the development process neglected in toughening up with tighter preparation methods”.

Ngani LAUMAPE another winger, has cracked the NRL and done very well with his opportunities. Suaia MATAGI too has debuted as a frightening front rower.


PANTHERS  – “Jennings! No, not Michael, who went through the much used exit door, but younger brother George. George will start this season in NYC, but don’t be surprised if he sneaks into NRL reckoning at some stage.”

George has not graduated to NRL as yet but has played much of this season in Windsor Wolves NSW Cup team. We missed Matt MOYLAN who has excelled in his debut year in NRL despite the salary cap conflict. Matt Robinson also did well in the second row before his serious neck injury finished his season early. Panthers are preparing and signing the very best of their youngsters for opportunity in NRL 2014 or 2015 on the fast track. Bryce CARTWRIGHT, a second rower with real vision and passing skills is building his body for his time to have a crack.


BRONCOS – “This club has already been through this phase in recent seasons, producing some great young backs in particular. They probably don’t want too many more in this team at present”.

Corey OATES has debuted in the outside backs pretty well in a team that has struggled most of 2013.


TIGERS  – “Tedesco at full back looked hot in NYC and in trials in NRL before season ending injury in round 1 2012 as did Sironen on occasions in his small bits. My bolter is Nofoaluma – one very strong young dude with dynamite carries in yardage from the wing on kick returns and dummy half”.

Tigers have used half a dozen rookies this season with wingers Tim SIMONA and David NOFOALUMA the standouts.


KNIGHTS – “a team full of veterans ready to go so we are not likely to see youngsters being tried in 2103. Korbin Sims and Mitchell Frei are giant young import back rowers who might break in for a bench spot”.

Sims has seen a little action and Wyong winger Josh MANTELLATO had one shot in first grade.


STORM – “Jesse Bromwich (not a true rookie) is a real live monster in the making. Watch out for Kurt Mann, a versatile half/fullback from Queensland Country”.

 We missed Ben HAMPTON  who looked pretty classy in his debut but apparently didn’t do enough to beat Brett Finch to the #6 with Widdop injured long term. Melbourne have struggled with the veteran subbing for the Origin players so it might be interesting to see if Mann or Hampton get another shot if things don’t change for the champions.


EELS – “Jacob Loko (not true rookie). This young man has had so much bad luck with injury and pressure of exceedingly high expectations (courtesy of that crazy idea of including talented but totally unproven NRL players in Future Origin Squads). I haven’t helped that by naming him here but truth is it’s hard to find another! ”

Sadly Loko went down with injury again but not before he reminded us of what he truly can do carrying the footy!  Ricky Stuart’s mid –season shake up meant opportunities galore for rookies. Kaysa  PRITCHARD, Peni TEREPO and Kelepi TANGINOA (before injured) all looked like they could make an NRL career with continued improvement and opportunity.


DRAGONS – “Cameron King played just five matches off the bench last year but looks like his role might be much bigger this season backing up the tremendous efforts of Mitch Rein in 2012”.

King has done well in his NRL opportunities.  Charly Runciman has also done well at centre as did Craig Garvey at dummy half. No shortage of hookers at Drags – Cowboys and Titans could do with a look over the fence at Dragons training.


BULLDOGS – “David Klemmer – another big bopper with a real touch of class for one so young. But he ain’t Graham! No-one is Graham!”

Wow what a great job Klemmer did before injury; a very big young fella with a very big bright future. Dogs have had some suspensions and injuries to key players but no real opportunities for rookies in 2013.


TITANS – “Can’t find one at all. Another club with a lack of NYC development causing them pain in depth and enthusiastic youngsters beating the door down for a shot. Aiden Sezer will likely get to start his first full season with first shot in the halves NRL games in 2013. He looked classy I thought and could really sharpen up the attack.”

Titans have used Jarome HUGHES from NYC at full back versus Penrith on debut . They have also brought in Anthony DON (another winger) and dummy half Sam IRWIN.


RABBITS – “They already did it last season! What a season Adam Reynolds had, and there is more fresh talent there to keep the list very competitive for spots on a weekly basis.”

So if you thought last year’s rookie Rabbits were good what do you think of Dylan WALKER, Luke KEARY and Tom BURGESS!

I have gone to NSW Cup games just to watch Keary – in a very hot field of terrific young halves preparing for NRL he is THE BEST at this stage IMO!


ROOSTERS – “So many red hot youngsters, some of whom have already had some NRL experience – Toupou, Cordner, Moga, Tuivasa- Sheck, Tasi and Henry – but don’t take your eyes off Brendan Tago an NYC front rower maturing there again in 2013. A ruthless performer with the most wonderful rugby league fundamentals that need some harnessing, but when that happens the Roosters will have yet another top prospect on their books”.

Tago was injured early in season but was not ready for NRL level yet. It will be interesting to see where his new path lays with Roosters still chock full of front rowers despite Marty Kennedy’s move to Broncos.


COWBOYS – “Some really good prospects for the future in this area for Cows. Back-rower Grevsmuhl has some great carries in him. Ulugia and ex-NYC Rooster Curtis Rona have raps”.

We seriously missed out here as none of these lads have seen the light of day despite the Cows sorry season so far. KYLE  FELDT from Cows NYC 2012 will make his debut this weekend. ANOTHER WINGER!


SEA EAGLES – “Sorry I can’t find a Cherry-Evans or Foran. Another club where all resources have gone to top level and the long term effects may start to show soon”.

Well they didn’t find another DCE or Keiran F but what a great find PETA HIKU has proven to be for the Eagles. JAMES HASSON, the rookie forward has not let them down either.

SHARKS – “Whilst the Sharks continue to produce good teams from a solid junior development program Coach Flanagan looks to one of the leagues even more experienced rosters again in 2013. Tyrone Peachey and Tupou Sopoaga may push for utility and back row positions at some stage”.

Tyrone PEACHEY got his chance recently and looks pretty determined to use it – even if it’s to show the Sharks what they will be missing next season when he is at Panthers! And you won’t be surprised to see that our very final debutant for this piece is Sosaia FEKI , another WINGER!!!