The 2012 NSW Under 18s side featured players who would go on to represent the state at the highest level and play 1,147 and counting NRL games.
Led by former Gold Coast Titans coach Garth Brennan, the side played as a curtain raiser to Game Three in the 2012 State of Origin Series at ANZ Stadium on 4th July 2012.
The Blues would ultimately go down 24-18 with Mitchell Moses, Tyrone Phillips and Jake Trbojevic all crossing for a try.
Nine years on, nswrl.com.au looks back at some of the players who went on to higher honours.
Read more: Looking back at the 2011 NSW U18s side
Affectionately known as “King Gutho”, the Parramatta Eels captain was a representative standout throughout his schoolboy career. At the time of his selection, he was playing for Manly in the Under 20s competition and he would go on to be selected for the Australian schoolboys in the same year.
Gutherson has since gone on to great heights within the game, which is even more impressive considering the ACL injury he had to overcome early in his career. Since playing Under 18s, Gutherson has played 139 NRL games, three Origins, won the Provan-Summons Medal and represented the Australian Prime Minister’s XIII in 2019.
The Eels custodian has gone from strength to strength in recent years, falling agonisingly short of the 2020 Dally M medal by just one point. The fan favourite didn’t skip a step in 2021 after leading the Eels to another finals campaign and further establishing himself as one of the game’s hardest working and most reliable players.
Before they were lighting up Bankwest Stadium together, Gutherson and Moses would make up half of the NSW Under 18s spine in 2012. Much like his club captain, Moses was a highly touted schoolboy out of the Rugby League nursery, Holy Cross College in Ryde.
In 2012, Moses was a part of the Tigers SG Ball Cup side that went on to win the Grand Final which helped earn him the award for SG Ball Cup Player of the Year. Off the back of an incredible individual season, Moses was selected as part of the 2012 Australian Schoolboys side.
Since joining Parramatta Eels, Moses has developed into one of the NRL’s leading playmakers and was rewarded with a State of Origin debut in Game Three this year.
While the Eels form fluctuated throughout the year, Moses finished with 146 points (7th), three tries, 20 try assists (7th), eight linebreak assists and 8,796 kick metres (3rd).
Growing as a Rugby League fan in South Sydney, every kid wants to pull on the fabled cardinal and myrtle jersey. For Johnston, a local junior, things would have been no different. Not only has Johnston played 166 NRL games for the proud club, but he has also etched his name in the history books as one of the most prolific try scorers the game has ever seen.
The back-to-back Ken Irvine medallist has an incredible record of 133 tries, scoring 30 tries in 2021and breaking the record for most tries in one season at South Sydney. Johnston only needs 14 more tries to overtake legendary winger Nathan Merritt as the Rabbitohs all-time leading try scorer.
Johnston was a part of the Rabbitohs famous 2014 Grand Final win and has played one Test for Australia, two Tests for Papau New Guinea and represented the Indigenous All Stars, Australian Prime Minister’s XII and Australian Schoolboys side.
NSW Under 18s side 2012
Clinton Gutherson – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (139 NRL Games)
Alex Johnston – South Sydney Rabbitohs (166 NRL games)
Aaron Gray – South Sydney Rabbitohs (49 NRL Games)
Richard Kennar – Melbourne Storm (31 NRL Games)
Tyrone Phillips – South Sydney Rabbitohs (15 NRL Games)
Mitchell Moses – Balmain Tigers (172 NRL Games)
Shannon Cook – Illawarra Steelers
Frazer Masinamua – Parramatta Eels
Manaia Cherrington – Balmain Tigers (16 NRL Games)
Jake Trbojevic – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles (162 NRL Games)
Kelepi Tanginoa – Parramatta Eels (33 NRL Games)
Danny Fualalo – Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs (73 NRL Games)
Dean Britt – Melbourne Storm (29 NRL Games)
Bryce Cartwright – Penrith Panthers (131 NRL Games)
Pauli Pauli – Parramatta Eels (48 NRL Games)
Andrew Chard – Illawarra Steelers
Matthew Lodge – Penrith Panthers (83 NRL Games)