Phil Rothfield’s NRL SuperCoach team revealed
He's the unknown 18-year-old many are tipping as the next big thing of rugby league.
Meet Bronson Xerri, the local junior making waves in Cronulla and my pick for buy of the year in NRL SuperCoach.
Big, strong and robust, Xerri is already being compared to former Shark Jesse Ramien, who had to be let go this season after attracting a big-money offer from the Knights.
While Xerri may not win a spot for Round 1, it's just a matter of time before he plays NRL.
From the Aquinas Colts club in Menai, former coach Shane Flanagan would have debuted Xerri last year at 17 if NRL rules allowed and current coach John Morris holds the youngster in similar esteem.
Xerri is currently the 20th most popular player in SuperCoach, but expect him to soar through the rankings once SuperCoaches get a glimpse of this kid in the trials.
He is one of four of my beloved Sharks named in the Buzzards' 25-man squad for NRL SuperCoach alongside Shaun Johnson, Kurt Capewell and young hooker Blayke Brailey.
Johnson is the Sharks' most-hyped recruit in a while and I'm excited to see what he can produce.
Capewell is a wholehearted and underrated player. He can play almost anywhere on the field but hopefully this is the year he finally locks down a regular position as Luke Lewis's replacement in the Cronulla back row.
The Sharks believe Brailey, younger sibling of current hooker Jayden, is a better prospect than his brother.
A lot will depend on the James Segeyaro contract situation but Flanagan had planned to debut Brailey in 2019 and play him for 6-8 games, although I'm not sure what the new coach has in store.
My other tip for cheapie of the year is Warriors recruit Adam Keighran. He is in the midst of a monster pre-season and will fill the halves spot vacated by Johnson.
The Panthers desperately wanted to keep him but couldn't with Nathan Cleary, James Maloney and Jerome Luai also on the books.
Cameron Smith ($594,400)
The best hooker of all time is $130,000 cheaper than Damien Cook.
Blayke Brailey ($168,100)
The Sharks reckon he's a better prospect than his brother.
Martin Taupau ($605,100)
Arguably the most damaging attacking prop in the game.
Sam Burgess ($560,000)
Expect him to go to another level under Wayne Bennett.
Tevita Pangai ($495,000)
Immensely talented but yet to reach his potential. This could be the year.
Payne Haas ($181,100)
The enormous youngster was very impressive in three games last year before a season-ending injury.
Jake Trbojevic ($667,600)
Consistent, tough, durable. Best work rate in the business.
Jason Taumalolo ($657,400)
Steamrolls everything in front of him and has promised to bring out the offload in 2019.
Matt Gillett ($423,900)
Considered the best backrower in the NRL not long ago but starts cheap due to injury.
Victor Radley ($400,700)
Hits as hard as anyone. Would have won the NRL Rookie of the Year Award last year if not for suspension.
Kurt Capewell ($340,200)
Wholehearted, underrated, versatile and cheap following stints on the bench last year.
Taane Milne ($181,100)
The talented former Dragon and Tiger starts cheap following a drugs ban.
Shaun Johnson ($603,000)
I'm very excited to see what he produces at the Sharks.
Adam Keighran ($168,100)
The Panthers desperately wanted to keep him but couldn't match the Warriors. Will start in Johnson's vacated halves spot and kicks goals.
Kalyn Ponga ($614,300)
Unstoppable on his day. Best young player in the comp.
Dylan Brown ($168,100)
Brad Arthur has virtually assured the 18-year-old the five-eighth in the opening round.
Latrell Mitchell ($595,000)
Freak of nature. Matured nicely last year and is now an Origin champion and premiership winner.
Jack Bird ($320,900)
Premiership winner with Cronulla in 2016 starts very cheap following a season ruined by injury.
Bronson Xerri ($196,900)
It's just a matter of time before he's a household name.
Jaeman Salmon ($210,500)
The Cronulla junior got a taste of NRL at Parramatta last year. He can be anything if he gets himself together off the field.
Zac Lomax ($196,900)
Another future superstar. Very impressive for the depleted Dragons during last year's finals.
Morgan Harper ($168,100)
Youngster coming through at Canterbury. Has his eye on a backline spot following the departure of the Morris twins.
Corey Allan ($168,100)
Bennett thinks very highly of this kid, who followed the master coach from Brisbane to Souths.
James Tedesco ($689,000)
The best fullback in the game following Billy Slater's retirement.
Scott Drinkwater ($219,400)
Set to fill Slater's old fullback spot at the Storm. Craig Bellamy is a master at bringing through young guns. When they come in, they perform from the outset.