THE NRL YOUNG GUNS TO WATCH IN 2016
1. Ashley Taylor (Gold Coast)
* The 2015 under-20s player of the year is a big chance to wear the Gold Coast No.6 jersey next year after making the move down the M1 from Brisbane. The Junior Kangaroos playmaker tore up the under-20s competition and had his NRL debut in round 26 against Melbourne cut short by compound fractures to two fingers.
2. Latrell Mitchell (Sydney Roosters)
* With Roger Tuivasa-Sheck having moved across the ditch, a vacancy has been created for the fullback position and the promising 18-year-old is in the running along with Blake Ferguson and English recruit Joe Burgess. Coach Trent Robinson has said he’s not far off making the step up to the NRL and could break into the starting 13 with a strong pre-season.
3. Matt Parcell (Manly)
* The 22-year-old has been widely tipped to run out for Manly in round one wearing the No.9 jersey. He was a key plank of Ipswich’s run to winning the NRL State Championship and is rated by Jets co-coach Shane Walker as a better prospect than North Queensland premiership-winning hooker Jake Granville.
4. Tom Wright (Manly)
* Uncertainty surrounds who will partner Daly Cherry-Evans in the Sea Eagles halves next year following the departure of Kieran Foran. Jamie Lyon is the early frontrunner, but former schoolboy rugby union sensation Wright is highly rated by coach Trent Barrett, who was instrumental in luring him to switch codes.
5. Te Maire Martin (Penrith)
* While Peter Wallace and Jamie Soward have the Panthers’ halves positions wrapped up, both have missed large chunks of the past two years through injury. General manager Phil Gould lured Martin from the Wests Tigers to shore up their future and it wouldn’t surprise to see him blooded in 2016.
6. Gideon Mosby-Gela (North Queensland)
* While he’s got a difficult task ahead of him to break into the premiership-winning North Queensland side, the winger is a try-scoring freak. In this year’s under-20s competition, he scored an astonishing 39 tries in 22 games.
7. Caleb Timu (Brisbane)
* Timu was touted as the next Gorden Tallis before departing for a two-year Mormon mission. Having returned to Brisbane, he has signed a two-year contract with the Broncos and will be eyeing a bench spot or a call up during the representative period.
8. Billy McConnachie (Wests Tigers)
* You can glean all you need to know about McConnachie from his nickname ‘Madness’. The hard-hitting back-rower was signed by the Wests Tigers from the Ipswich Jets. It will be interesting when he faces Newcastle following his punch to the back of Jake Mamo’s head in the State Championship final.
9. Addison Demetriou (Manly)
* Demetriou was named in the under-20s team of the year after making the unlikely switch from prop to centre this season. While Manly have plenty of quality outside backs, an opportunity could open up for the damaging ball runner with a few injuries.
10. Carlin Anderson (Brisbane)
* With Justin Hodges’ retirement, there are holes to plug in the Brisbane backline. The Broncos beat off five rival clubs to sign the 19-year-old sensation. He provided plenty of highlights for Ipswich in this year’s Queensland Cup, in particular his 50-metre solo try against Northern Pride in which he kicked the ball four times.