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DEBUTANT WATCH | Live-Wire Fullbacks Earn Debut

Ahead of Round 18 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, two Intrust Super Premiership graduates has been named to get their first taste of the top grade - takes a look at Nick Meaney and Caleb Aekins. 

Nick Meaney

Club: Newcastle Knights
Position: Fullback 
Age: 21
Intrust Super Premiership games played: 31
Representative honours: NSW Under 20s 2017

He has superstar written all over him and with fullback Kalyn Ponga suffering a hamstring strain last week, crafty fullback Nick Meaney will make his first-grade debut against the Eels this Friday night. 

A genuine X-Factor with an uncanny ability to create something from nothing, Meaney will be looking to combine prominently with halfback Mitchell Pearce, with the star halfback also making his return after a long stint on the sidelines.

Signing with the Bulldogs for the 2019 season, Meaney will look to make a name for himself this weekend after showing plenty of promise through the junior grades and Intrust Super Premiership competition.

With unwavering potential and a brilliant ball-playing ability, the 2017 NSW Under-20s No.1 will cause plenty of havoc for the Eels defence as he looks to start his first-grade career in style. 

Caleb Aekins

Club: Penrith Panthers
Position: Fullback
Age: 21
Intrust Super Premiership games played: 31
Representative honours: NSW Under 20s 2017

As one of the form players of the Intrust Super Premiership NSW competition in 2018, Caleb Aekins has been rewarded with a first-grade debut as he replaces the injured Dallin Waltene-Zelezniak this weekend. 

Proving unstoppable throughout the entire season so far, Aekins has established a reputation as being one of the most damaging broken play runners in the game - leading the competition in total run metres, kick-return metres, tackle-breaks and ranked second in post-contact metres. 

Electric with the ball-in-hand, Aekins constantly threatens opposition defensive lines with his nifty footwork and live-wire ability, and the dynamic No.1 will have some familiar faces alongside him in Jarome Luai and Tyrone May.

The future is certainly bright for Aekins, and he will undoubtedly thrive in the fullback role in their highly-anticipated clash against the Warriors. 

2018 Debutants

• Sam Cook – Warriors (Round 1 v South Sydney Rabbitohs)*

• Adam Doueihi – North Sydney Bears, South Sydney Rabbitohs (Round 2 v Penrith Panthers)

• Christian Crichton – Penrith Panthers (Round 3 v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

• Wayde Egan – Penrith Panthers (Round 4 v North Queensland Cowboys)

• Kurt Dillon – Newtown Jets, Cronulla-Sutherland-Sharks (Round 6 v St. George Illawarra Dragons)

• Kaide Ellis – Penrith Panthers (Round 6 v Gold Coast Titans)

• Taniela Paseka – Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Round 6 v Wests Tigers)

• Jack Hethrington – Penrith Panthers (Round 7 v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)

• Rhyse Martin – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (Round 9 v Brisbane Broncos)

• Reece Robson – St. George Illawarra Dragons (Round 9 v Melbourne Storm)

• Jarome Luai – Penrith Panthers (Round 10 v Newcastle Knights)

• Renouf To'Omaga – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (Round 10 v Parramatta Eels)

• Tom Wright – Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Round 10 v Brisbane Broncos)

• Zac Lomax – St. George Illawarra Dragons (Round 10 v South Sydney Rabbitohs)

• Jack Williams – Newtown Jets, Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (Round 10 v Canberra Raiders)

• Marata Niukore – Wentworthville Magpies, Parramatta Eels (Round 11 v Warriors)

• Matt Ikuvalu – Wyong Roos, Sydney Roosters (Round 13 v Wests Tigers)

• Reed Mahoney - Wentworthville Magpies, Parramatta Eels (Round 14 v North Queensland Cowboys)

• Manase Fainu - Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles, Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Round 16 v Penrith Panthers)

• Lachlan Lewis - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (Round 16 v Newcastle Knights)

• Ofahiki Ogden - Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (Round 16 v Newcastle Knights)

• Darren Nicholls - St George Illawarra Dragons (Round 17 v Melbourne Storm)

• Nick Meaney - Newcastle Knights (Round 18 v Parramatta Eels)**

• Caleb Aekins - Penrith Panthers (Round 18 v New Zealand Warriors)

*Finished 2017 season in the Intrust Super Premiership NSW

**Named to debut in Round 18