GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 22: Ash Taylor passes during a Gold Coast Titans NRL training session on November 22, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Teams and fans hold mountains of hope in young and exciting halves, and too often we write off these players when they do not produce in their early years.

Fans of the game, before you write off another youngster trying to make their mark in NRL, exercise patience, they need time to grow in the league.

Not all young players are going to come into the league and light it up like Kalyn Ponga and Nathan Cleary have.

Even these two players who will dominate the NRL for years to come have experience growing pains. Ponga dealt with injuries at the back end of his first full season in first grade and Cleary’s Panthers fell well short of expectations last year.

There are many halves now who have moved into their late twenties that have finally come into their own as starting calibre halfbacks or five-eighths.

Luke Keary of the Roosters is a prime example of why teams and fans should show patience. Keary is now 27 and has established arguably the best halves combination in the NRL with Cooper Cronk.

Before linking up with the Roosters in 2017, Keary always showed flashes of the player he could become with his former team the South Sydney Rabbitohs who were not patient enough to wait till he fulfilled his potential.

Keary this past season won the Clive Churchill Medal when his Roosters beat the Storm in the Grand Final. His great season and performance in the Grand Final also earned the five-eighth a call up to the Australian Kangaroos team.

Expect to see Keary demand the ball more this season as his confidence will be sky high following last season’s efforts.

Although overpaid, the now 28-year-old Ben Hunt has also developed into a quality half like Keary.

Hunt, now with the Dragons, was a slow burner for the Broncos, coming off the bench playing hooker most of his young career before getting the chance to show his talent as Brisbane’s number one playmaker.

Hunt turned his impressive form with the Broncos into a $1.2 million a year contract with the Dragons.

This season there are many young halves that teams and fans will expect to make the leap to stardom. Some of these players will shine, others will again show flashes but be inconsistent.

If everyone remains patient, these young halves could be the ones to take their sides to a premiership somewhere down the road.

Ash Taylor (23-years-old) of the Titans tops the list as some have called him the new Jonathan Thurston.

Brisbane are hoping 24-year-olds Anthony Milford and Kodi Nikorima can lead them to a premiership.

Bulldogs coach Dean Pay will be expecting 22-year-old Lachlan Lewis to continue his growth in first grade this season and so will Storm coach Craig Bellamy who needs a big season from 21-year-old Brodie Croft.

Along with these two youngsters, many former players are tipping great things for the Eels Dylan Brown right out of the gate. We may need to pump the breaks a little as Brown is still only 18 and yet to make his debut in first grade.

An interesting story to watch will be the Warriors’ halves battle since the departure of Shaun Johnson. Blake Green (32), another player who was a late bloomer will be the incumbent, with Chanel Harris-Tavita (19) and Adam Keighran (21) the other players fighting for the other spot beside Green.

Patience must also be shown by Cowboys coach Paul Green as he attempts to replace Jonathan Thurston with either Te Maire Martin (23) or Jake Clifford (21), who are both battling for the spot next to Michael Morgan.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart will be taking a risk by moving Jack Wighton into the halves to begin the season. Although already 26, Wighton may not hit his stride as the Canberra five-eight until late in the season.

Along with these players, expect to see a host of future NRL halves get their chance when injuries or bad form take their tolls on teams.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you Russell Crowe for chasing Luke Keary all the way from Nanna Glenn drinking session to the Sydney Roosters. Let this be an example to all players out there that want to play Semi-Final Footy or the odd Grand Final and for a bonus play Origin or for your country. If you sign on at the Roosters for a bit less in cash you will gain every thing as a footy player, Yes even a Premiership or two. Tuivasa $hreck, Napa, Ferguson just to name a few have chased the money and at the end of their career they will look back at the Roosters as the best days of their lives. Because they will never again play in a grand Final again.💪🐔👍

  2. You can add Pearce to that list because I can’t see the knights winning a premiership in the next 5 years.

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