The Canterbury Cup stars set to light up the 9s

While there are plenty of big names taking centre stage at Bankwest Stadium, these are the underrated players who could shine amongst their star-studded line-ups.

Steven Marsters – Cook Islands

There were a host of players who starred for the Dragons Canterbury Cup NSW squad in 2019 and Steven Marsters was certainly one of them.

He was a key cog in their surge towards the Minor Premiership, and although a heartbreaking Preliminary Final loss followed, the Dragons, and Marsters, can be proud of their efforts in 2019.

The powerful centre, who represented the Junior Kiwis in 2017-18, was a key target when the likes of Darren Nicholls or Adam Clune looked to test the edges, and more often than not, he would cause plenty of havoc.  

In his 23 appearances for the Red V this year, he recorded nine tries, 10 line-breaks and 64 tackle-breaks, so if he finds open space this weekend he’ll be sure to make the most of it in his return to the international arena.

Reubenn Rennie – Cook Islands

Reubenn Rennie burst out of the blocks at the start of the 2019 season and was a key reason as to why the Mounties enjoyed a blistering start in the Canterbury Cup NSW. 

He only needs a little bit of open space to capitalise on the smallest of opportunities, and his uncanny knack to find an offload is arguably his greatest asset.

His 82 tackle-breaks, 13 try-assists, 13 line-break assists and 78 offloads speak volumes of his crafty nature, and along with Marsters, they could culminate into the ultimate attacking weapons at any time they get their hands on the ball. 

He is set to represent the Cook Islands for the third time, and the occasion will be made all the more special when he runs out alongside his brother, Vincent. 

Dean Blore – Samoa

Dean Blore has an enormous future in Rugby League and this weekend provides the perfect chance to show the world what he’s capable of.

Still just 21, Blore made 13 appearances for the Panthers in the Canterbury Cup NSW this season and made a seamless transition in doing so.

He’s no stranger to the representative arena having played in the NSW Under-18’s, Australian Schoolboys and Junior Kiwis sides in recent years – making a name for himself with his crafty ball-playing skills and instinctive nature.

As a perfectly well-rounded five-eighth, Blore will provide an extra dimension in attack for Samoa along with Panthers team-mates Jarome Luai and Brian To’o.

Taane Milne – Fiji

There’s very few players who can get an offload away like Taane Milne and it could act as the perfect attacking weapon when Fiji take the field at Bankwest this weekend.

The squad boasts plenty of speed and power through the likes of Waqa Blake and Maika Sivo, but the underrated skill of Milne may also prove lethal in the nine-a-side contest.

Milne’s incredible ability to find an offload will draw plenty of defenders the moment he touches the ball, and could provide some extra room for Sivo and Blake to pounce on.

Willing to play second-phase football and a tenacious defender as-well, it could be Milne who sparks Fiji in the moments that matter. 

Tuipulotu Katoa –Tonga

While Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita headline an incredible Tonga line-up, Tuipulotu Katoa is preparing for his international debut and has shown enough to suggest he could light up the World Cup 9s. 

The dynamic outside back was instrumental in the Bulldogs courageous efforts to go back-to-back, and although their efforts were to no avail, Katoa impressed on countless occasions. 

Katoa graduated from the Bulldogs Jersey Flegg Cup side and was a major part of the Bulldogs top-four finish in the Canterbury Cup NSW, crossing for five tries and recording six line-breaks in just 13 appearances.

While Katoa is perfectly placed for a breakthrough season in 2020, his first steps towards a big future in the NRL could begin on Friday