The best under-16s in NSW will make their mark in the representative arena for the first time this weekend with the opening round of the UNE Harold Matthews Cup for 2019.
16 teams will look to etch their names in the history books with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles aiming to claim back-to-back premierships for the first time since the Parramatta Eels in 2012-13.
They claimed their maiden premiership in last year’s decider with a gutsy 26-18 victory over the Eels on the back of two inspiring performances from forwards Tyreece Matangi and Siosiua Fotu.
They went on to claim a comfortable 32-12 victory over Andrew Johns Cup winners the Western Rams to be crowned the best Under-16 team in NSW.
The Eels, Panthers and Knights are also expected to remain as the top contenders after finishing in the top-four last year.
The Panthers, in particular, will be hoping to avenge their disappointing finals campaign after claiming the Minor Premiership with just defeat throughout the entire regular season.
They finished with the best attacking record in the competition last year with an average of 32.5 points per game, however, fell short with a tough loss to the Sea Eagles in the Preliminary Final.
The opening game of the season will feature the South Sydney Rabbitohs and Western Suburbs Magpies, with both sides desperate for a top eight berth after finishing ninth and tenth respectively in 2018.
Enticing fixtures include a Round Six blockbuster between the Rabbitohs and Roosters, while Round Four will see the Sharks take on the Panthers in a battle of the heavyweights.
Keep an eye out for Sea Eagles halfback Teddy Wilson after he featured prominently in 2018 for the reigning premiers, while Bulldogs halfback Joseph O'Neill and Knights forward Max Bradbury will also prove crucial to their clubs success this season.
Keep up to date with the all the UNE Harold Matthews Cup action throughout the year via NSWRL.com.au/draw