SG Ball Cup NSWRL Rugby League Season Preview 2023

Some of football’s biggest young stars will be back as the SG Ball Cup season begins. NewsCorp continues its all-team preview featuring the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

FUTURE NRL stars will make their impact as the SG Ball Cup returns for another season.

The competition, which pits Australia’s best Under-19 talent against one another, has a long tradition in breeding future first-graders and this year will be no different.

Penrith’s success was one of many for the club over the past year, but there are plenty of sides hot on their heels, including a western suburbs side who will take several players from their dominant Premier League league in the Harold Matthews Cup in 2022 has convened.

We’ll gradually preview all 16 clubs competing this year, continuing with the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.

CRONULLA-SUTHERLAND SHARKS

Captain: TBA

Trainer: David Howlett

Players to watch: Lawson Cotter and Lachlan Crossle are both local junior league players with strong running plays. Cotter is an edge back row and was highlighted as an exciting prospect by academy and talent manager Glenn Brailey. Meanwhile, front rower Crossle is known for his fitness and hard work in the park. Both players got a taste of SG Ball last year and will bring the necessary experience with them.

Why they will be competitive: According to the officials, they have put together a strong squad that features a good combination of local talent and position-specific recruits. With a bit of injury luck, they are aiming for promotion in 2023. Players who played in a major finals at last year’s Harold Matthews Cup will be making their finals claim.

Last season: 7

MELBOURNE STORM

Captain: Josiah Ekkehard Neli

Trainer: Jason Warr

Players to watch: “Lock Josiah-Ekkehard Neli and front rower Zayvian Langkilde-Fale both finished last year with Jersey Flegg. Josiah is a really willing player, he’s aggressive and plays well and truly above his weight. Zayvian is a strong ball carrier and does everything right in defense. Suliasi Prescott has spent the preseason on the NRL development gauge and is an elusive dummy-half coming back after last year.

surprise package: “Young center Siulagi Pio has a great frame and brings a great attitude to the club. We expect some big things from him.”

Why they will be competitive: “This is the best pre-season we have ever had. There have been interruptions in recent years, but none this time. The boys have trained very well and want to do their best. 75 percent are players in their prime, whereas in previous years we had to rely on the youngest to get by. It’s a good platform that has had a season, which helps cohesion.”

Last season: 15

BALMAIN TIGER

Captain: TBA

Trainer: Gaven Sheehan

Players to watch: “The name on everyone’s lips is Josh Feledy. He moved from Manly to the Wests Tigers. He trained with the NRL squad in preseason and we may see him in the early rounds (from SG Ball). Another is a local Tony Sukkar who is a forward and a very likely return to SG Ball. He is a strong player with a lot of maturity. He has trained alongside Oliver Lawry on the NRL squad. He’s a big unit, over 6ft tall, has great skills and is a strong half.”

surprise package: “I had a big hit against this player last year but unfortunately he got injured in the trials. Elijah Mataale has returned as a 5kg fitter and trimmer. He looks like a great prospect. He is a center front rower. Another is John Ibrahim who looks great as a running lock.”

Why they will be competitive: “If you look at both teams last year, not many people gave us hope at SG Ball and we finished just a point behind second place. What I see in this group is the balance across the field. We have some good forwards, good defenders and some key players in those positions. If you look at Wests and a few others who are going to be strong, we’ll probably be under the radar. We will continue to build well and there are no real weaknesses in the field as a whole. Our top 18-20 players look strong.”

Last season: 3rd (eliminated final Wk 1)

WESTERN SUBURBS ELSTER

Captain: TBA

Trainer: Joey Saukuru

Players to watch: “We completed three training sessions at the highest level. Kit Laulili’i is a ball player and brings real leadership to the team. He’s a year young for SG Ball but has a very mature mind and is leading from the front. Zac Clarke is an edge-back rower who can also play on the six. Tallinn De Silva is a classy nine who gets out and runs. The club managed to lock him up which is good for his development, we really appreciate him.”

surprise package: “Heath Mason is a good, running half and a really nice kid. He was with the Emerging Blues that summer and went to camp with them. Heath was part of Harold Matts’ team last year who went unbeaten last year and is a product of St Greg’s who trains hard and is really aggressive.”

Why they will be competitive: “At last year’s SG Ball we had 11-year-olds, nine of them stayed, two went to other clubs. Also, we have the Harold Matts youngsters, so we have a decent side of local talent. About 95 percent of them are locals, plus Australian schoolboys player Chris Faagutu (from Queensland). I think we can shake it really well.”

Last season: 12.

Originally published as SG Ball Cup Season Preview: Profiles of all clubs ahead of the 2023 NSWRL Junior Reps season

https://www.codesports.com.au/nrl/sg-ball-cup-season-preview-every-club-profiled-ahead-of-the-2023-nswrl-junior-reps-season/news-story/d10b421951a754b25ef4ebc0bb0e2631?nk=30a327bc6addccb9e0dd40f0dba4288f-1673929031 SG Ball Cup NSWRL Rugby League Season Preview 2023

Ryan Sederquist

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