The 2018 NRL season is here.
There’s a host of this region’s best products lining up for NRL clubs this weekend as well, be it in the big time, the Intrust Super Premierships or in the Jersey Flegg, which is the NRWRL run under 20s competition.
Not to mention the throng of Rams players currently in the middle of SG Ball and Harold Matthews campaigns in Sydney.
Keen to run your eye over the best from the west? Take a look at our list below:
BRISBANE: Kotoni Staggs (Wellington).
Will start the year with Redcliffe in the Q-Cup competition.
Was a stand-out for the Broncos in the under 20s last season. A strong start to the season could see the outstanding young Cowboys’ junior push for NRL selection.
CANBERRA: Jack Wighton (CYMS/Bloomfield), Shannon Boyd (Cowra), Darby Medlyn (Parkes).
Wighton and Boyd have been part of the Raiders NRL squad now for the better part of half a decade, but Medlyn’s move to the nation’s capital is an exciting one.
The Rams backrower has been named to play with the Green Machine’s under 20s side, Mounties, in the re-booted Jersey Flegg competition.
CANTERBURY: Dean Pay (coach, Dubbo), Josh Jackson (captain, Mudgee/Gulgong).
Incredibly the Dogs head into the 2018 NRL season with a Dubbo coach and a captain that hails from Gulgong.
CRONULLA: Jesse Ramien (Coonabarabran), William Kennedy (Bathurst St Pat’s).
Could we see Bubba junior in the NRL in 2018?
Kennedy, and Ramien, have both been named to play for Newtown in the Intrust Super Premiership, the old NSW Cup, this weekend. Kennedy will line-up at fullback.
MELBOURNE: Craig Bellamy (coach, Portland), Harrison Muller (Orange CYMS).
Bellamy, from Portland, played with Oberon, now one of the best coaches in the NRL – incredible rise.
Harry Muller was a stand-out for the Sunshine Coast Falcons in last year’s Q-Cup grand final.
MANLY: Joel Thompson (Forbes).
An off-season switch from the Dragons to the northern Beaches for Thompson. The Red Bend gun has been named to start in the backrow.
NEWCASTLE: Connor Watson (Dubbo), Brent Naden (Wellington), Lachie Farr (Blayney), Mitch Andrews (Forbes).
Watson’s move to the Hunter stems from a desire to crack a full-time gig as an NRL half. He’ll get that chance at the Knights, named alongside Mitch Pearce at the scrum base for round one.
Both Andrews and Farr have been named in the Knights’ Jersey Flegg side – kick it to Farr, he’d be the biggest winger in that comp.
SOUTH SYDNEY: Braidon Burns (Coonamble/Bathurst),
Burns will play with Norths in the Intrust Super Premiership. Has been named to play fullback. Should break into the Souths NRL side at some point.
SYDNEY ROOSTERS: Blake Ferguson (Wellington).
Ferguson will be gunning to remain in the NSW Blues frame.
ST GEORGE ILLAWARRA: Luke Gale (Dubbo Macquarie).
A genuine star with both Macquarie and Western in 2017. Will come off the bench for the Dragons in the Jersey Flegg.
PENRITH: James Maloney (SJS Orange), Isaah Yeo (St John's Dubbo), Kaide Ellis (St John's Dubbo), Tyrone Peachey (Wellington), Wayde Egan (Lithgow Workies), Adam Fearnely (Bathurst Panthers), Isaac Thompson (Narromine), Jack Quinn (Dubbo CYMS), Toby Westcott (Orange CYMS), Billy Burns (Coonamble), Dave Cowhan (Forbes).
The Panthers’ link with our region is pretty obvious to see on this list.
Aside from the NRL players with Western bonds, there’s Lithgow gun Egan in Penrith’s Intrust Super Premiership side and a stack of Rams players in the Jersey Flegg set-up in 2018 – Fearnley and Jets’ junior Thompson link for an all Western halves pairing for Penrith’s under 20s.
Cowhan will play in the Q-Cup with the Central QLD Capras, with the club linking with Penrith to help develop a pathway for central Queensland players to the NRL.
WESTS TIGERS: Riley Cheshire (Bathurst St Pat's), Heath Gibbs (Dubbo/Bourke), Jai Doolan (Cowra).
Gibbs has been named to start in the Tigers’ centres for round one of the Jersey Flegg, while Cheshire has been included in the 21-man squad, but might battle to make the 17.
GOLD COAST: Sam Coster (Parkes)
Will play the bulk of the season with the Burleigh Bears, one of the Titans’ Q-Cup links.
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