Mark O’Meley has predicted Bradman Best will make his first grade debut next season after the Newcastle Knights teenage sensation was selected in the Australian Schoolboys to tour England.
Best was one of six NSW under-18 players chosen in the 22-man squad for the four-week tour that includes two Test matches against England Academy.
The players were presented with their jerseys at Rugby League Central on Monday night by Kangaroos Coach Mal Meninga before leaving Australia for England on Tuesday (November 20).
O’Meley, who was coach of the under-18’s side that downed Queensland in State of Origin this season, said the 17-year-old centre had a bright future ahead of him.
“I reckon he would have played NRL by now if he was 18,” O’Meley told NSWRL.com.au.
“I think he’ll get a taste next year.
“He’s ready to go that kid, it’s just his age and rules and restrictions at the moment.”
Best is ineligible to play in the NRL until he turns 18 in August next year but already has experience with the first grade squad after being invited to train with them before his 17th birthday in 2017.
The talented centre, who scored a memorable long-range try in the dying minutes to hand the under-16 Blues a victory over the Maroons last year, has already impressed the senior players at the Knights with his size, strength and skill.
O’Meley said the experience of playing for the Australian Schoolboys would stand all the under-18s Blues players in good stead for their futures in Rugby League.
As well as the two Test matches against England Academy, the Australian Schoolboys will also play games against England Colleges, Yorkshire Academy and Lancashire Academy.
“Obviously it’s going to progress them, it gives them more opportunity to play some more rugby league, and it puts them in the shop window,” O’Meley said.
“They’re big, bony kids over there in the UK and they’ve got their Academy. It’s going to be a lot more physical for them but the Aussies’ speed will be better than England’s
“Obviously the pathway that NSWRL has done has been outstanding for their development and will also help them.”
You can watch all of the Australian Schoolboys matches on the Our League live stream