The NRL season is now just around the corner and there are plenty of promising players to keep our eyes on.
One of the most exciting parts of a new season are the new recruits and young stars coming through the ranks across the competition, with 2021's crop as enticing as any.
They are sure to give hope to the teams at the bottom of the table and if they can crack the top teams they are likely to earn the tag as 'the next big thing'.
Speaking on SEN 1170's Around The Grounds, former NRL journeyman and Queensland representative Scott Sattler named five players he believes will have a breakout campaign in 2021.
Sattler said he is a big fan of Raiders youngster Harley Smith-Shields, with the exciting centre set to step up in the absence of skipper Jarrod Croker.
“With Jarrod Croker missing the start of the season you might find that he’ll start the season in the centre.
— Canberra Raiders (@RaidersCanberra) September 17, 2019
“He’s a really good player this kid. He’s not overly big but he’s a really athletic kid. I think we’ll see a fair bit of him.”
Sattler also has great faith in big front-rower Sam Hughes from Parramatta.
Hughes is a man mountain who moves really well for his size, with traits of Eels legend Fui Fui Moi Moi.
“I think we’ll see a fair bit of him, he’ll get his first taste of NRL," said Sattler.
Titans second-rower Darius Farmer played some first-grade last year and showed promising glimpses, but Sattler believes he should've played more.
“He’s a New Zealand Under 18 representative," he said.
A @GCTitans up and comer is urging men not to ignore warning signs when it comes to their health.
— 9News Gold Coast (@9NewsGoldCoast) September 17, 2019
“I thought he would have played more NRL last year, but because the second tier was put on delay he never got his chance.
“He’s going on 21 years of age, he’s about 6 foot 3, 6 foot 4, a real Sonny Bill Williams frame.
Sam Walker from the Roosters and Sea Eagle Tolu Koula rounded out the list.
Sattler believes Walker remind him a lot of Queensland half-back and Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans.
“He’s got good DNA, he’s built and plays a lot like Daly Cherry-Evans when he first came in as an 18-19 year old," he said.
“Great player, I think we’ll see a lot of him in the number seven jersey for the Roosters."
Meanwhile Sattler gave big wraps for Koula, who has a strong athletics background.
Tolu Koula is the fastest player at Manly, and with the ability to score tries like this, it's no wonder the 18-year-old has been tipped to make his NRL debut in 2021.
— Telegraph Sport (@telegraph_sport) November 21, 2020
His best position is up for debate, with Manly wanting him to perhaps fill a hole at centre while Sattler sees him as a out-and-out fullback.
“I heard Manly were going to coach him into becoming a centre, but I think he’s an out and out fullback," Sattler added.
“He can run, he has really good peripheral vision and really good footwork."
Scott Sattler's top five emerging players for 2021:
5. Harley Smith-Shields
4. Sam Hughes
3. Darius Farmer
2. Sam Walker
- Tolutau Koula