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20 stars for 2020 | Spencer Leniu

Spencer Leniu has shot through the ranks at the Penrith Panthers in 2019, making his way from the Jersey Flegg Under-20s to the Canterbury Cup NSW side and later earning an NRL debut within one calendar year.

Likened to Brisbane front-rower Payne Haas by state coach Mark O’Meley, the 19-year-old prop has been a regular feature in the NSW Pathways Program, making appearances in the Under-18s and Under-20s teams.

Leniu played a massive 58 minutes at starting prop in this year’s Under-20s State of Origin fixture, making 108 run metres, two tackle-breaks and 19 tackles as New South Wales secured a 36-10 win.

Looking at his club form, Leniu averaged 125.8 run metres and 6.6 tackle-breaks from just five matches in the 2019 Jersey Flegg Cup. An outstanding start to the year saw him quickly promoted to Canterbury Cup NSW, producing four tries, five line-breaks, 26 tackle-breaks, 946 run metres and 196 tackles across 10 games.

Following his sudden rise through the lower grades this season, Leniu received a well-deserved debut jersey ahead of Penrith’s meeting with the Sharks in Round 21. The Panthers came away with a memorable 6-point victory on that occasion, as it also marked the debut appearances of Leniu’s fellow under-20s teammates Matt Burton and Stephen Crichton.

Leniu went on to play all remaining matches for the Panthers’ first-grade side in a fitting end to a stellar 2019 and will certainly be looking for more NRL experience in the season to come.

With the departure of former Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Penrith’s breakout forward for 2019 should be pushing for much more game time at the top level next year.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.