As Valentine’s Day passes and the month of February draws to a close, it can only mean one thing for rugby league fans – the NRL season is nearly here!
So, with all 16 clubs sweating it out as pre-season slowly comes to an end, who are the best young players that are set for a big year in 2022?
As a St George Illawarra fan, this author believes the Dragons have one of the strongest group of young players coming through the NRL ranks.
Fullback Tyrell Sloan, halves Talatau ‘Junior’ Amone and Jayden Sullivan and brothers Matt and Max Feagai all played together in the Illawarra Steelers’ 2019 SG Ball premiership year. The young group of Dragons have all had a taste of NRL action and will be pumped for a big 2022 season.
Sloan recently re-signed with the Dragons until at least the end of the 2024 NRL Telstra Premiership season and said he is happy that the group of players are staying at the club.
“Re-signing is a proud moment in my career. It’s good news for the club that there’s a few of us staying put and remaining with our friends and family. None of us wanted to leave. This is our home,” Sloan said.
Besides the Dragons young guns, there will be plenty of other young talent on display when the NRL season kicks off in March.
South Sydney Rabbitohs youngster Blake Taaffe did an outstanding job when filling in at fullback for the suspended Latrell Mitchell at the end of last season.
The 22-year-old had five try assists, six line-break assists and a try in his eight NRL games. Even more remarkable is that three of those games came in the finals, including the NRL Grand Final.
With former captain Adam Reynolds now playing with the Brisbane Broncos, expect Taaffe to stake his claim for a starting halves position next to Cody Walker next season.
Sydney Roosters teenage star Joseph Suaalii had an injury-plagued 2021 NRL season and only played five games. Expectations are high for the 18-year-old and Roosters captain James Tedesco said Suaalii is on the road to recovery and looking fit.
“We all know Suaalii’s a freak but he had that injury which was a big surgery for him and he’s on his recovery now,” Tedesco told nswrl.com.au
“He’s looking huge as well, he’s only 18 years old and he’s looking about 105-110 kilos.”
With the signing of Adam Reynolds to add some experience to the squad, the ‘baby Broncos’ will be hoping to stand up and deliver in season 2022.
Labelled ‘the next Greg Inglis’, Broncos outside back Selwyn Cobbo made his NRL debut in round 13 against the Dragons last season, scoring his first NRL try just a week later. Big things are expected of the 19-year-old and the Broncos this season.
“The Broncos have a great group of young players who have been through a fair bit of adversity over the last few years,” Broncos great Corey Parker said.
“When you play for the Broncos, playing finals is the expectation, that’s just how it’s been.”
“You throw Payne Haas, who is still a young kid, in that mould, Selwyn Cobbo – they’re the players that play with that real freedom and fly by the seat of their pants.”
So, which young players will perform well under pressure in the 2022 NRL season? Only time will tell, but it’s going to be fun and exciting watching the season unfold. Bring on the footy!