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20 stars for 2022 | Franklin Pele

There has been no shortage of great forward talent making the jump from the NSWRL into first grade and Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks’ Franklin Pele is one of those top prospects going around.

Combining his size, late footwork, a silky offload and a powerful carry when required, Pele has an ideal skill base for the modern prop which should go a long way to even more NRL appearances in 2022.

Playing his formative Rugby League years with St Patrick’s Sutherland and Gymea Gorillas, Pele has been part of the Sharks’ Academy system since 2016, representing the NSW Under 16s and Australian Schoolboys along the way.

Then in 2021 Pele’s game went from strength to strength, making the leap from Jersey Flegg Cup to Knock-On Effect NSW Cup and the NRL – all in a matter of weeks.

His best performance this season came in Round 11 of The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup during the Newtown Jets’ 44-20 win over the Dragons. He produced the moment of the match after using his deceptive speed to break the line from his own half before turning past the last defender to score.

Pele finished that match with two tries, two line breaks, eight tackle busts, 150 run metres and 11 tackles with zero missed propelling him to make his NRL debut just eight days later.

Pele is an out-and-out rising star in a Sharks squad under the new direction of head coach Craig Fitzgibbon, and the 20-year-old prop might have a big role to play well into the future at the Shire club.