True Blue Jamie Soward casts his eyes over the Canterbury Cup NSW graduates who are set to make their respective NRL debuts this weekend.
191 centimetre and 115-kilogram prop Stefano Utoikamanu has been regarded as one the most promising young players in this year's rookie class.
The Australian Schoolboys representative played 17 games for the Wentworthville Magpies in 2019, making a massive 604.8 post-contact metres, 35 tackle busts and 455 tackles.
The now 20-year-old scored the match-winning try for NSW in a man-of-the-match performance in the Under-18s Origin game in 2018 and he backed that up again in 2019 in the Under-20s match, coming off the bench and making 149 metres from 11 hit-ups in the Blues 36-10 victory over Queensland.
New Zealand born Utoikamanu has been likened to the Bronco’s Payne Haas and will be expected to be, like Haas was, a damaging ball runner when he makes his NRL debut against the Newcastle Knights on Sunday.
Soward says: He’s a big body. His work rate has been impressive in the lower grades and I think he's got that punch through the line which is going to please Brad Arthur and fit into that forward pack nicely. Anytime you see one of these big boppers come through you’ll always question whether they can make the jump but he seems like one of those elite talented guys that we've got in the NRL at the moment that’s able to have that punch through the line but also have a little bit of an offload as well so I’m really looking forward to seeing him play.
2020 Canterbury Cup NSW graduates
1. Toby Rudolf – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (Round 1 v South Sydney Rabbitohs)
2. Jamayne Taunoa-Brown – Warriors (Round 1 v Newcastle Knights)
3. Jake Averillo – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (Round 2 v North Queensland Cowboys)
4. Troy Dargan – South Sydney Rabbitohs (Round 3 v Sydney Roosters)
5. Alex Seyfarth – Wests Tigers (Round 3 v Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks)
6. Tex Hoy – Newcastle Knights (Round 3 v Penrith Panthers)
7. Brodie Jones – Newcastle Knights (Round 3 v Penrith Panthers)
8. Adam Clune – St George Illawarra Dragons (Round 4 v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
9. Tevita Funa – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Round 5 v Brisbane Broncos)
10. Sam McIntyre – Wests Tigers (Round 6 v North Queensland Cowboys)
11. Stefano Utoikamanu – Parramatta Eels (Round 9 v Newcastle Knights)