This time last year Sam Verrils had just earned an NRL debut with the Sydney Roosters, but now, he's a premiership-winner, and the heir to the throne of Jake Friend's no.9 jersey.
It's been an incredble rise for the 21-year-old who capped off a remarkable 2019 maiden campaign with the opening try in the NRL Grand Final – filling in for an injured Friend more than valiantly throughout a majority of the season.
NSW Under-20's coach Mark O'Meley wasn't at all surprised by his efforts in the Grand Final having watched Verrills cause havoc around the ruck in years gone by.
“He did that play for the Under-20s for two years straight and he’s scored five tries off it this year, they didn’t do their review too well on him," O'Meley told NSWRL.com.au.
“If anything, he was almost too intelligent, he probably ran the ball too much; in the Under-20s he had two dominant halves, but now he’s gone away from that into a team that plays as a team, not individuals as it shows, and he excels.
“He’s a great kid, his tackle technique and wrestle is really good.
“Jake Friend throws his whole body at the line more, but Sammy is technical and wins the wrestle as opposed to getting in front of them like Jake.
“I’m happy because I watched the kid for years when he’s been at the Roosters and he’s done it the hard way by working his ass off.”
He fit in seamlessly to the Roosters fold, forming a strong combination with Cooper Cronk, Luke Keary, and James Tedesco – and has now become a mainstay in the Top 17 with two appearances to start 2020.
In his 11 games for the North Sydney Bears last year, he recorded four tries, one try-assist, and 17 tackle-breaks, while producing three tries, three try-assists, and 15 tackle-breaks in his 12 first-grade appearances.
There is little doubt that the NSW Under-20 representative is primed for a massive future in Rugby League, and if his efforts in 2019 were any indication, he could soon become a household name in the near-future.