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20 stars for 2022 | Latu Fainu

If you have been discussing in the past 12 months about the game’s top young talents yet to step foot on an NRL field, there’s a fair chance you’ve already heard of Latu Fainu.

Youngest of four brothers in a rugby league family bursting with talent, Fainu is the 16-year-old Manly Warringah Sea Eagles sensation, who tore up the competition in this year’s UNE Harold Matthews Cup – helping his side to a Grand Final win and being named Player of the Series.

Earlier in the year the NSWRL even released a highlight reel of his brilliant season, which garnered some of the most engagement from fans and followers of any junior representative content in 2021.

From 10 matches Fainu produced four tries, 16 try assists, 10 line-breaks, 14 line break- assists and seven offloads, while averaging 4.8 tackle busts and 98.5 run metres. The No.6 had direct involvement in four of the five tries in the Harold Matthews Cup decider.

Nonetheless, although we may have to wait until this young five-eighth reaches the eligible age to play first grade, the Sea Eagles are under no illusions about the bright prospect they have on their hands. The teenager has agreed to a four-year deal with Manly.

Fainu also caught the attention of Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, which saw him take part in the recent Future Blues training camp at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence.

Manly’s top-four finish in the 2021 NRL competition had a number of young stars make a name for themselves – Josh Schuster, Jason Saab and Haumole Ola’kauatu to name a few – and securing Fainu for the upcoming seasons puts the Sea Eagles’ future in good hands.

Schuster, Saab and Ola’kauatu were also named by Fittler in his 31-strong Future Blues.

It’s abundantly clear that Fainu has enough raw talent to earn his start in first grade down the track, and it’s scary to comprehend how far he could go with more development under his belt.