17 Uncapped Players Ready for NRL

17 Uncapped Players Ready for NRL

The countdown until the 2018 season is on – and for many fans, work has already begun in preparing NRL Fantasy teams. The cash cow will form a vital part of any good NRL Fantasy outfit, with lesser-known players picked up prior to their NRL debuts.

At NSWRL.com.au, players who have been established in the lower grades can gain a strong reputation long before they get a taste of the top grade. While it's hard to determine who will play first grade, we’ve put together a list of 17 yet-to-debut players who have played in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW, making them bargain buys for 2018.

Adam Doueihi
Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs (North Sydney Bears)
Position: Halfback (HLF)
Price: $212,000

The 19-year-old burst onto the scene in the recent Rugby League World Cup, and made a name for himself in the Brad Fittler-coached Lebanon side that exceeded all external expectation in the tournament. Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker are all but locked in as the 2018 halves pairing for the South Sydney Rabbitohs, but young gun Doueihi is hot on their heels to break into the side if form or injury plays a part.

Update: Doueihi made his NRL debut in Round 2, 2018

Darren Nicholls 
Club: St George Illawarra Dragons
Position: Halfback (HLF) 
NRL Fantasy Price: $212,000 

Captaining the Penrith Panthers to Intrust Super Premiership NSW and NRL State Championship success last season, Darren Nicholls moves to the Red V with his sights firmly fixed on making a long-awaited NRL debut. At 28 years of age, Nicholls looks likely to achieve his NRL dream if or when Ben Hunt features for Queensland in the State of Origin series.

Jack Murchie
Club: Canberra Raiders (Mounties)
Position: Second Row Forward (2RF)
Price: n/a

Jack Murchie is one of the best young prospects yet to make his NRL debut, having won the man of the match in the NSW Under-20s Origin match last year after a barnstorming performance. The Raiders have one of the strongest forward packs in the competition, meaning breaking into the starting 17 will be no easy task, but Murchie has all the tools for a long NRL career that could begin as quickly as 2018.

Jarome Luai
Club: Penrith Panthers
Position: Halfback (HLF)
NRL Fantasy Price: $212,000

Since guiding the Panthers to a Holden Cup premiership in 2015, Luai has continually shown his spark in attack. Spending time in both the halves and at fullback, the 20-year-old is part of an exceptional playmaking brigade at the foot of the mountains, with a Round 25 hat-trick proving he can excel in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. Luai would then play his part in the Panthers’ premiership and three games for Samoa in the Rugby League World Cup – as the only member yet to taste the top grade

Jed Cartwright 
Club: Penrith Panthers
Position: Second Row Forward (2RF)
NRL Fantasy Price: $212,000

Son of Panthers legend John, Jed Cartwright starred for Penrith as the men from out west surged towards the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW title. A versatile type, Cartwright casts a shadow similar to cousin Bryce and boasts the ability to play in the outside backs – as he did for much of last season. The 22-year-old signed a three-year deal to ensure his stay at the Panthers until the end of 2019, with 2018 perhaps to be a break-out season.

Josh Cleeland
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Position: Halfback (HLF)
NRL Fantasy Price: $212,000

Of every potential NRL player, Cleeland was perhaps the most supported by fans; he seemed to be the clear answer to a lacklustre attack in the Bulldogs’ NRL side. Regardless, Cleeland stayed put in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW but with a new-look playing and coaching roster, will fancy his chances of playing some NRL in 2018. When he does, expect a fleet-footed ball-runner who will look to support Kieran Foran at the top level.

Junior Pauga
Club: New Zealand Warriors
Position: Winger/Fullback (WFB)
Price: n/a

Held in high regard by the New Zealand Warriors, Junior Pauga is a player of the future. Having only just graduated from the Under-20s – where at times he’d average a massive 250 running metres while playing centre - the rising star has been featured in the Intrust Super Premiership side for the better part of two years. It seems an NRL debut if a matter of when rather than if for young Pauga, with a 2018 appearance on the cards should he continue his blistering form.

Kurt Dillon 
Club: Cronulla Sharks (Newtown Jets)
Position: Front Row Forward (FRF)
NRL Fantasy Price: $212,000 

A big, strong and capable type, Kurt Dillon's form in 2017 earned selection in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW Team of the Year. Training strongly alongside Cronulla’s established forwards Paul Gallen and Andrew Fifita, the Henson Park fan favourite will push for an NRL berth this season.

Maika Sivo
Club: Penrith Panthers
Position: Winger/Fullback (WFB)
NRL Fantasy Price: n/a

It’s been three years – and an incredible 98 tries – since Sivo first played Rugby League in Australia, and there’s every chance he’ll continue his rise to the top grade. After helping the Panthers to the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW title, the Fijian flyer looks every bit an NRL player. While former coach Garth Brennan believes there is still work to be done until he reaches that level, one thing is a safe bet: when Sivo does play NRL, he will be no stranger to the tryline.

Makahesi Makatoa
Club: Canberra Raiders (Mounties RLFC)
Position: Front Row Forward (FRF)
NRL Fantasy Price: $212,000

A damaging forward with potential in spades, Makahesi Makatoa could fill the void if an injury crisis hits the Raiders’ pack in 2018. Standing at 186cm and tipping the scales at 103kg, the powerhouse forward showed he has an uncanny ability to offload the ball in traffic when turning out for the Mounties last season.

Nick Meaney
Club: Newcastle Knights
Position: Winger/Fullback (WFB)
NRL Fantasy Price: n/a

Yet to earn an NRL start, Nick Meaney appears on the cusp of a first-grade debut having earned the Knights’ ‘Player of the Year’ across the Holden Cup and Intrust Super Premiership NSW in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Named one of NSWRL.com.au’s ‘18 Stars of 2018, Meaney will push incoming livewire Kalyn Ponga in the race towards the club’s ‘No.1’ jersey.

Pasami Saulo
Club: Newcastle Knights
Position: Front Row Forward (FRF)
NRL Fantasy Price: n/a

Still eligible for the Jersey Flegg competition in 2018, the recently re-signed Pasami Saulo turned out for the Knights in their quest for an Intrust Super Premiership NSW title last season. A Member of the NSW Under-18s side in 2016, Saulo will push his claims for an NRL debut this year having impressed in pre-season training. ​

Reece Robson
Club: St George Illawarra Dragons
Position: Hooker (HOK)
Price: $212,000

He sits behind Cameron McInnes who will start at hooker for the Dragons this year, but Reece Robson is a player certain to play plenty of NRL in years to come. He has a stacked junior representative résumé, having represented the NSW Under-18s and Under-20s in the past two years, as well as the Junior Kangaroos. The hard-working hooker may get his shot in 2018 should form or injury play a part, particularly with a strong start to the season in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW.

Update: Robson will make his NRL debut in Round 9, 2018

Reuben Garrick
Club: St George Illawarra Dragons
Position: Centre (CTR)
Price: $212,000

After back-to-back NSW Under-20s Origin appearances and a season floating around in both the Intrust Super Premiership NSW and the NYC competitions, Garrick has all of the potential to make the next step. An incredible skilful back that can play anywhere in the back five, Garrick will be among a host of young guns at the Dragons looking to fill the void left by Josh Dugan and Taane Milne.

Rhyse Martin
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Position: Second Row Forward (2RF)
NRL Fantasy Price: $228,000

Combining well with Cleeland, Martin was another major reason the Bulldogs reached the 2017 Intrust Super Premiership NSW Preliminary Finals. A strong line-runner, Martin became known to many thanks to his exploits for Papua New Guinea in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, but seems almost certain to play NRL this season. Also a fine goal-kicker – an area in which the Bulldogs are lacking at NRL level – the former Roosters NYC captain is likely to bag a lot of points when he gets his first grade opportunity.

Update: Martin will make his NRL debut in Round 9, 2018

Tom Hughes
Club: Newcastle Knights
Position: Winger/Fullback (WFB)
Price: $212,000 

Hughes was ultra impressive last year, making the Intrust Super Premiership NSW team of the year, and scoring the most tries (17) out of anyone in the entire competition. Kalyn Ponga, Tautau Moga and Shaun Kenny-Dowall are among the new recruits for the Knights in the past six months who are in the race for a spot in the back five, but Hughes’ outstanding season will have him pushing for that NRL debut.

Zac Woolford
Club: Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
Position: Hooker (HOK)
NRL Fantasy Price: $212,000

Under the tutelage of father Simon Woolford, son Zac has long experienced the weight of expectation that he, too, will achieve great things in the no.9 jersey. Woolford had already shown his potential in the 2016 NSW Under-20s victory over Queensland, before arriving at Belmore in 2017 when he would spend most of his time coming off the bench in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW. The exit of Craig Garvey should provide Woolford with more minutes at that level, with a view to eventually play on the bench in the top grade.

Originally published in February 2018.