With the 2014 season fast approaching, the Daily Telegraph has named their Top 10 NYC graduates that could go on to become NRL stars.
Luke Brooks – Wests Tigers – halfback: What can we say that hasn’t already been said about the young half? Fans had a taste of what the 19-year-old can produce in his stunning debut against St George Illawarra last season. A direct player who plays to the line, Brooks has a fine tuned kicking game and the composure to lead the club into the future.
Michael Lichaa – Cronulla Sharks – hooker: The 20-year-old would have played first-grade last year if it wasn’t for an ongoing hamstring injury. A runner with a handy left foot step who likens his playing style to that of South Sydney rake Issac Luke, Lichaa has spent the pre-season working on his fitness and developing a kicking game to further his attacking arsenal. He is placing plenty of pressure on Isaac DeGois and John Morris to retain their spots.
Cameron McInnes – South Sydney Rabbitohs – hooker: He is a ready-made replacement for Nathan Peats after his move to Parramatta. Known as one of the fittest players at the Rabbitohs, McInnes is quick off the mark. Like fellow rake Issac Luke, he has a strong running game. Skipper of the Souths Holden Cup side, the Botany junior is a natural leader and recently signed a contract extension until the end of 2015.
Mitch Cornish – Canberra Raiders – half-back: Signed until 2015, Canberra view the Goulburn product as a long-term playmaker. Having proved at Holden Cup level he is more than capable of producing the big plays, Cornish was set to make his NRL debut in round 26 until the salary cap intervened. With Anthony Milford wanting to make the fullback jersey his own and Josh McCrone set to make the permanent move to hooker, McCrone just may find himself starting alongside Terry Campese come round one.
Brenden Santi – Parramatta Eels – backrower: Santi is a promising backrower who captained the Australian Schoolboys in 2011. Last season he featured in the Rugby League World Cup, representing Italy. Similar to James Graham, Santi is a workhorse who possesses a handy offload. A former Wests Tiger, Santi was chased by several clubs before taking up a two-year deal with the Eels.
Charly Runciman – St George Illawarra Dragons – centre: Following Matt Cooper’s retirement, the 20-year-old is a ready-made replacement in the centres. Having already played six first-grade games last season, the two-time Holden Cup team of the year awardee has proved he is a genuine NRL prospect.
Jake Trbojevic – Manly Sea Eagles – prop: With Brent Kite (Panthers), George Rose (Storm), David Gower (Eels) and Joe Galuvao (retired), having left the club, Trbojevic is expected to play plenty of first-grade this season. After getting a taste of NRL in round 26 last year, the junior Kangaroos star, who is off contract at the end of the year, has attracted the interest of a number of clubs.
Hymel Hunt – Melbourne Storm – centre: A former Gold Coast Titan, Hunt made his NRL debut in round 17 last season. Having played rugby union the majority of his life, Hunt attracted attention from some of the game’s experts just one year after jumping codes. Having represented the Junior Kangaroos and named in the Holden Cup team of the year, the hulking centre is sure to get a run at some stage this season.
Pat Templeman – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs – fullback: Having lost Ben Barba to Brisbane, Templeman is firmly in the running to wear the coveted No. 1 jersey. The Sunshine Coast product was the Holden Cup’s top pointscorer last year with 307 points. Despite his slender frame, he is tall and has speed to burn, coupled with an ability to find a gap. He finished last season with 17 tries.
Adam Clydsdale – Newcastle Knights – hooker: There is a reason Manly recently threw big money at the youngster in a bid to lure him away from the Knights. Cut from the same mould as Newcastle’s greatest ever hooker Danny Buderus, Clydsdale was recruited to play as a half-back. The grandson of former Kangaroo winger Don “Bandy” Adams, Wayne Bennett describes the Holden Cup skipper as “probably one of the best under 20s kid in the competition”.