The NSWRL has cast its eye over the 12 teams who will take part in The Knock-On Effect NSW Cup in 2022, with the opening round to kick off on Saturday 12 March. The state’s premier competition remains a valuable pathway for higher honours with 52 players going on last season to play in the NRL. Today, the Western Suburbs Magpies.
Western Suburbs Magpies were one of the NSW Cup heavyweights in 2021, sitting in the top two at the end of the 15-game season and only six competition points behind the Penrith Panthers.
What’s more, the Magpies had the best attacking record in the competition with a tally of 422 points, surpassing the 40-point mark in four separate games.
The 2021 side also featured six NRL debutants throughout the season, including hooker Jake Simpkin, outside backs Zac Cini and Junior Pauga, prop froward Tuki Simpkins, backrower Kelma Tuilagi and No.7 Jock Madden.
At just 21, Madden himself was a key contributor to the success of Ben Gardiner’s side last year, earning the honour of 2021 Western Suburbs Magpies Player of the Year.
The halfback finished the season as top pointscorer (130) and directed Wests’ attack with aplomb, recording eight tries, 49 goals, six try assists, seven line-break assists, as well as being second best for kick meters (2,905).
Simply put, it will be very difficult to back against the Magpies for the upcoming season, who line up this year with a number of familiar faces from the 2021 squad.
As result there isn’t much room to improve other than continuing their 2021 form and building towards a top four finish in 2022 – their campaign starting on Sunday afternoon against Mounties.
Outgoing Magpies coach Ben Gardiner has been rewarded for his success by reconvening with Michael Maguire as an assistant at the Wests Tigers. He is replaced by Wayne Lambkin who comes off a 2021 Jersey Flegg Cup season that saw the Tigers finish in top spot when the season was suspended due to the Sydney COVID-19 outbreak after 11 matches.
With that in mind, 2022 will give fans a look at some of those Under 21s names who are set to make the step up to NSW Cup level.
With their attacking structures already well and truly in place, Western Suburbs also boast a strong forward pack featuring Kiwi middles Thomas Mikaele – with 60 games of NRL experience – and promising 20-year-old Tuki Simpkins, alongside backrower Tom Freebairn and prop Austin Dias who share 76 NSW Cup appearances between them.
This year’s Magpies squad has all the makings of a premiership tilt in 2022.
Players to watch
Jersey Flegg Cup stars Logen Dillon and Rua Ngatikaura are two youngsters who could light up the competition in 2022.
Fullback Dillon only had a glimpse of NSW Cup last year but he’s got far more to offer when he gets the first opportunity in the custodian role for round one, including his ability to invariably appear in the right place at the right time and be the first man in support with any break in the defensive line.
From nine Jersey Flegg games in 2021, Dillon scored eight tries and set up three, made 11 line-breaks and threw seven offloads while averaging 5.6 tackle busts and 136.2 run metres.
Alongside him was Jersey Flegg Tigers captain and hooker Ngatikaura, whose strong build and powerful ball running has already drawn comparisons with Melbourne Storm’s Brandon Smith.
The Tigers junior led the Under 21s side by example, producing six tries, three try assists, six line-breaks and three line-break assists, with an average of two tackle busts and 23.1 tackles.