SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 16: Matt Doorey of the Bulldogs makes a break to score a try during the round 14 NRL match between the Wests Tigers and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Bankwest Stadium on August 16, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

It's been a long, long four months but finally, the NRL returns to our screens on Thursday night as the pre-season challenge gets the season underway.

While there's $100,000 on the line for the victor of the 18 clubs competing, the key focus for head coaches lies on the budding combinations and individual form within his side, and easing the selection of their Round 1 team.

All 17 NRL clubs will be participating in the challenge, as well as St Helens from the Super League, who'll play the Dragons in the first week before facing Penrith in the second, which doubles as the World Club Challenge.

While the majority of Round 1 sides are all but selected in a coaches mind already, trials always throw spanners in the works as injuries lurk their ugly head while young guns and fringe first-graders put their hand up for a spot in the 17.

While we'll likely see close to 400 players feature across the pre-season challenge, some deserve more attention than others, specifically these ten youngsters.



1. Taniela Sadrugu (North Queensland Cowboys)

At 24 years of age, Taniela Sadrugu isn't exactly a young dynamo like others featured on the list, but he has the potential to make just as much of a splash.

The Cowboys utility, who can play centre, wing, back-row and lock, featured in four games for Fiji at last year's World Cup, crossing the line twice as he flirted between the edge and the middle for the Bati.

While Coen Hess is expected to start on an edge, Luciano Leilua is expected to be stood down until at least Round 12 while Heilum Luki's ACL injury is still being rehabbed, he's a genuine chance at nabbing a bench spot.