Parramatta Eels skipper Clint Gutherson has heaped praise on rookies Will Penisini, Haze Dunster, David Hollis and Sam Hughes for their impressive form over the pre-season.
The quartet could be in the running for a place in the first-grade side in 2021 with several spots opening up.
Gutherson said Penisini, a member of the NSW Youth Boys Sevens squad in 2018, has really stood out at just 18 years of age.
“We’ve got Will Penisini, I think if he really puts his head down he could have a big future in the game and especially at this club,” Gutherson told The Daily Telegraph.
“But [for the] the young kids it takes so long for them to develop in the modern game, only a special few can go straight in and prove how great they are.
“It’s such a long season the NRL and you use a lot of players and I’m sure if they do get the chance they will be ready."
One major selection concern facing the Eels is finding a replacement at centre for Michael Jennings - who is provisionally under the NRL’s Anti-Doping policy for testing positive to a banned substance.
Gutherson is unsure who will fill the void, stating a number of players have been trialled during pre-season training.
“We’ve had a few [train] there [at centre] … I have just been getting flogged on the side at the moment and slowly get into it back slowly this week,” he said.
“We have been mixing the team up a little because we have enough players there.
“We’ve got Waqa [Blake, Will Penisini, Oldie [Michael Oldfield] … we’ve got heaps of players there who can do the job.
“Whoever Brad decides to go with in round one or in the trials, it’ll go a long way … but I’m sure the staff will pick the right player."
Gutherson said Dunster has also stood out as a potential option in the centres, who made his debut in the second week of last year's finals series.
According to Gutherson, Dunster's confidence has grown in spades over the pre-season.
“Blaze has been great. He got a taste of it in an awkward sort of circumstance last year but he did a great job for us in the semi final and he has come back bigger and better,” Gutherson said.
“He has finally realised he could do it.
“He probably lacked a bit of confidence in himself. He is training the house down, he is as fit as anything.
Gutherson also said Hughes and Hollis have also been turning heads and could be in the running for a place on the bench.
The Eels kick off their 2021 campaign against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on Friday March 12.