True Blue Jamie Soward casts his eyes over the Canterbury Cup NSW graduates who are set to make their respective NRL debuts this weekend.
Jayden Sullivan will make his long-awaited NRL debut in Round 20 after being named at five-eighth by interim coach Dean Young
Sullivan has been earmarked as a superstar of the future by many at the club having been part of their junior development system for a number of years.
He captained the premiership-winning Illawarra Steelers in the UNE SG Ball Cup last year before earning a Top 30 contract for the 2020 campaign.
He will partner fellow rookie Adam Clune in the halves and bring his potency in attack against an inexperienced Melbourne Storm outfit on Sunday.
Soward says: I am so excited to watch Jayden Sullivan play this weekend. He is one of the players I wrote down at the start of the year who I thought could really provide some depth for the Dragons in 2020.
It's taken a while for him to earn his chance but rest assured he has a skill set that only few players possess. He is a natural-born footy player and he is at his best when he backs his instincts. This is the perfect opportunity to show Anthony Griffin what he can do in the top-grade for 2021.
Eddie Blacker will join Sullivan as the two debutants for the Dragons' clash against the Storm and the hard-working forward is sure to do his club proud.
Blacker joined the Dragons from the Broncos in 2019 and played nine games in the Canterbury Cup NSW before representing the Queensland U20s side.
He will come off the interchange bench and look to provide plenty of aggression and energy in the Dragons final game for 2020.
Soward says: I have only seen a handful of Eddie Blacker's games but from what I have seen he just works so hard. He has some really strong energy about him and I think he will provide a lot of enthusiasm off the interchange bench.
He's been able to learn under representative players such as Tyson Frizell and Paul Vaughan so I can only imagine that has worked wonders for his development.
Darby Medlyn played a significant role in sending the Raiders' Jersey Flegg Cup side to the 2019 Grand Final, and 12 months later he has earned an NRL debut.
Medlyn will come off the interchange bench in the side's clash against the Sharks, and will provide invaluable depth after coach Ricky Stuart opted to rest a host of Raiders' stars.
The barnstorming forward has played five games for the Mounties in the Canterbury Cup, and also represented the CABE NSW Under 20s side in 2019.
Soward says: Darby Medlyn's debut is a credit to the hard work he has done in the past 12 months and even more special given he was part of the Raiders' Jersey Flegg Cup side that made the Grand Final.
He enjoyed a really special 2019 season and he's the type of player you want to play with. He never gives up, and that's all you can ask for from a young gun looking to make a name for himself in the NRL.
Adam Cook will make his first-grade debut alongside Darby Medlyn and Jarrett Subloo on Saturday, replacing dynamo Charnez-Nicoll Klokstad at fullback.
Cook joined the full-time NRL squad midway through the pre-season after impressing coach Ricky Stuart with his crafty ball-playing ability.
He was voted as the Townsville Blackhawks Under 20s Player of the Year last season.
Soward says: It will be a big task replacing Charnze Nicol-Klokstad but the best thing Adam Cook can do his back himself and play his own game. He is a super talent, and the fact Ricky Stuart has put faith in him to get the job done in the final round of the regular season says enough about what he can bring to the Raiders.
Jarrett Subloo earned a development contract with the Raiders for the 2020 pre-season but such is the potential of the skilful five-eighth that he quickly earned a spot in the club's Top 30.
Now the young gun is preparing for an NRL debut just 12 months after helping the Raiders to the Jersey Flegg Cup Grand Final alongside fellow debutant Darby Medlyn.
Soward says: He's a really classy player who has great vision and a lethal running game. I would expect Subloo to come on in the second-half when fatigue sets in and cause some havoc around the middle-third of the field.
Another exciting prospect who deserves his change in first-grade.
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. Christopher Randall – Newcastle Knights (Round 3 v Penrith Panthers)
9. Adam Clune – St George Illawarra Dragons (Round 4 v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
10. Keaon Koloamatangi – South Sydney Rabbitohs (Round 4 v Melbourne Storm)
11. Tevita Funa – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Round 5 v Brisbane Broncos)
12. Sam McIntyre – Wests Tigers (Round 6 v North Queensland Cowboys)
13. Charlie Staines – Penrith Panthers (Round 9 v Cronulla Sharks)
14. Kai O'Donnell – Canberra Raiders (Round 9 v Melbourne Storm)
15. Stefano Utoikamanu – Parramatta Eels (Round 9 v Newcastle Knights)
18. Reece Hoffman – Wests Tigers (Round 9 v Wests Tigers)
19. Jaxson Paulo – South Sydney Rabbitohs (Round 10 v Newcastle Knights)
20. Semi Valemei – Canberra Raiders (Round 10 v Sydney Roosters)
21. Andrew Davey – Parramatta Eels (Round 10 v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
22. Jack Johns – South Sydney Rabbitohs (Round 11 v Canberra Raiders)
23. Teig Wilton – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (Round 11 v St George Illawarra Dragons)
24. Harley Smith-Shields – Canberra Raiders (Round 11 v South Sydney Rabbitohs)
25. Braydon Trindall – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (Round 12 v Brisbane Broncos)
26. Jackson Ferris – Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks (Round 12 v Brisbane Broncos)
27. Daniel Suluka-Fifita – Sydney Roosters (Round 12 v Gold Coast Titans)
28. Max Bailey – Sydney Roosters (Round 13 v St George Illawarra Dragons)
29. Asu Kepaoa – Wests Tigers (Round 13 v Newcastle Knights)
30. Daine Laurie – Penrith Panthers (Round 13 v Canberra Raiders)
31. Christian Tuipulotu – Sydney Roosters (Round 14 v Melbourne Storm
32. Matt Doorey – Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs (Round 14 v Wests Tigers)
33. Freddy Lussick – Sydney Roosters (Round 15 v Wests Tigers)
34. Steven Marsters – South Sydney Rabbitohs (Round 15 v Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
35. Paul Turner – Warriors (Round 15 v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
36. Albert Hopoate – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Round 16 v Melbourne Storm)
37. Matthew Timoko – Canberra Raiders (Round 16 v Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)
38. Josh Schuster - Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (Round 17 v Wests Tigers)
39. Cody Ramsey - St George Illawarra Dragons (Round 18 v Canberra Raiders)
40. Max Feagai – St George Illawarra Dragons (Round 19 v Newcastle Knights)
41. Tom Ale – New Zealand Warriors (Round 19 v Canberra Raiders)
NOTE: This list of players are of those who have graduated directly with Canterbury Cup NSW-affiliated clubs in 2020. Others who have made profressional debuts in other competitions (i.e. Super League) prior to earning an NRL start are not included