Penrith recruit Tim Browne in action for the Bulldogs.
Penrith recruit Tim Browne in action for the Bulldogs. DAN HIMBRECHTS

The NRL's unlucky 16 for round one

DEPTH is a huge factor in the success of NRL teams across the course of the season.

While some players may not get a run in round one, there's no doubt a majority of them will be called on when their teammates get injured or get called up for representative duties.

From rookies to seasoned players, these are the players on the cusp of selection at your NRL club.


We saw 19-year-old Su'A making his NRL debut last year and he went on to make a total of four appearances.

But with the club boasting three international back-rowers, it's always going to be hard to get a consistent crack at the big time.

The Logan Brothers junior has showed plenty of promise and it's only a matter of time before we see him more frequently in first grade.

DRAGONS: Jai Field

The St George Illawarra talent burst on to the scene this pre-season with stellar performances in the Auckland Nines.

He's since had a shot in the 13-man version of the game with trials against the Wests Tigers and South Sydney, but the jury is still out about whether he's ready to officially make his first-grade debut.

For that reason, experienced playmaker Josh McCrone is likely to get the No.7 jersey for round one, so Field will have to bide his time a little longer.

PANTHERS: Tim Browne

The 29-year-old prop has made the low-key switch from Canterbury to Penrith this season on a three-year deal.

The club already boasts an impressive forward pack, so it's unlikely Browne will get a shot first up.

But the knee injury to Sam McKendry has opened the door for Browne who should be able to add to his 84-game tally.

RABBITOHS: Braidon Burns

We saw a glimpse of what this young South Sydney recruit can do after he bagged a double in the Charity Shield last Sunday.

The 20-year-old showed plenty of talent, but with Greg Inglis to come back into the backline and Alex Johnston to return to the wing, it's likely we'll have to wait until Burns makes his NRL debut.

But at least Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire will know he can confidently call on the former Penrith under 20s star if need be.

BULLDOGS: Tyrone Phillips

The departures of Curtis Rona and Sam Perrett have opened up places in Canterbury's backline this season.

Brenko Lee and Kerrod Holland are tipped to get first crack, but also waiting in the wings is 23-year-old Phillips who has six NRL games to his name.

The Fijian international can play centre, wing and fullback and will no doubt be out to impress coach Des Hasler.

SHARKS: Manaia Cherrington

One player who has largely been forgotten about in the race for Cronulla's No.9 jumper is the former Tigers player.

Cherrington has joined the Sharks this season following Michael Ennis' retirement, but he's down the pecking order with Jayden Brailey and Daniel Mortimer ahead of him.

Brailey is likely to start with Mortimer or Fa'amanu Brown to be carried on the bench, but if injury should strike, Cherrington could well be called on.


Toafofoa Sipley of the Warriors.
Toafofoa Sipley of the Warriors. DAVID ROWLAND

WARRIORS: Toafofoa Sipley

The young Warriors prop has been in the club's system since 2013 and is just another example of the endless talent they seem to produce.

Sipley won the under 20s title with the Warriors in 2014 before going on to captain the side in 2015 and represent the Junior Kiwis.

He got a taste of NRL footy last season when he took to the field on two occasions and will no doubt add to that tally this year.

SEA EAGLES: Brian Kelly

This new Manly recruit oozes talent and is well on his way to making his NRL debut.

Bought by the Sea Eagles for 2018 and 2019, he was released by Gold Coast a year early and looks set to be a star of the future.

He can play both centre and wing and last season scored 11 tries in 15 matches for the Titans under-20s side.

In 2015, he bagged an impressive four tries for NSW in the under 20s Origin match.

While it's likely Jonathan Wright will get the left centre position in round one, Kelly will be nipping at his heels until be breaks into first grade.

COWBOYS: Gideon Gela-Mosby

It's only a matter of time before we see this lightning bolt strike the NRL.

The speedster has been a standout in the Auckland Nines and under-20s competitions, but has yet to break into first grade.

With Kalyn Ponga moving on at the end of the season, the Cowboys could look to Gela-Mosby to fill a void out wide if injuries strike throughout the season.

TIGERS: Esan Marsters

The Kiwi wrecking ball has been terrorising the younger grades in recent years and has also spent time playing in the Intrust Super Premiership.

Despite his 110kg frame, the 20-year-old has ball skills and footwork to match.

He's reportedly been one of the Tigers' best performers over the pre-season and could very well push for a bench spot at some stage.

TITANS: Tyronne Roberts-Davis

Keep an eye out for this rangy 19-year-old winger who recently got his chance his the Auckland Nines and the trial against the Warriors.

Roberts-Davis possess plenty of raw speed and skill and represented both Queensland and Australia Schoolboys in 2015.

His second cousin and teammate Tyrone Roberts has backed the youngster to make his debut this year.

RAIDERS: Adam Clydsdale

While he's considered Canberra's third-choice hooker behind Josh Hodgson and Kurt Baptiste, injuries could see the former Knight make his return to the top grade in 2017.

With Baptiste recovering from an achilles rupture and the likelihood of utility Jordan Turner slotting into the centres for Jarrod Croker (knee), Clysdale has an opportunity to impress.

The 24-year-old is no stranger to first-grade footy, having made a total of 44 appearances to date.


Brodie Croft of the Storm is tackled by Gareth Widdop of the Dragons.
Brodie Croft of the Storm is tackled by Gareth Widdop of the Dragons. DEAN LEWINS

STORM: Brodie Croft

This Melbourne rising star already got a taste of NRL football when he debuted in round 15 last season, and judging by his form in the Auckland Nines, he'll get a bit more of it this year.

The 19-year-old who hails from Dalby, was also a standout performer in the club's trial win over the Warriors.

Storm star Cooper Cronk recently hailed Croft's temperament and ability to communicate with his teammates.

ROOSTERS: Joseph Manu

Manu is one hell of a talent and there have been plenty of calls for him to take his place in the Roosters' backline.

But with the likes of Blake Ferguson, Michael Gordon, Latrell Mitchell, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and Daniel Tupou already occupying spots, he'll probably have to bide his time.

The 20-year-old has made three NRL appearances for the Tricolours to date and that will only grow in time.

EELS: Cameron King

Injuries have hampered him for most of his first-grade career, but King is a genuine chance of making it back in the NRL this year.

King is well in the mix with Kaysa Pritchard and Isaac De Gois also on the Parramatta's books.

The 25-year-old debuted with the Dragons back in 2010, but has made just 21 NRL appearances since.

KNIGHTS: Luke Yates

The 21-year-old could be a bolter to break into the Newcastle pack this season.

Yates has three pre-season's worth of fitness behind him and has been biding his time in the Intrust Super Premiership.

Last year he was named the club's reserve grade player of the year.

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