The Roar
The Roar


NRL rookie team of the year

The Titans host the red-hot Eels in Round 3. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Guru
5th September, 2016
1211 Reads

NRL has once again outdone itself by producing another great young batch of talent.

Last year the like the Tui Lolohea, Jack Bird and Cameron Munster were some the great rookies to emerge. This year two rookies finished in the top three for leading try scorer. This the best of the rookies for 2016.

1. Cody Walker
A seasoned rookie at 26 , Walker showed he belonged in the NRL after many years trying to crack first grade. With Adam Reynolds injured and Greg Inglis struggling with form, Walker was the most dangerous player on a poor Souths team, he was rewarded with two-year extension.

2. Suliasi Vunivalu
Put your hand if you though Suliasi Vunivalu will be the NRL’s leading try scorer at the start of the season? A no name to most Storm fans, ‘Suli’ barnstormed his way to 22 tries for the season.

The Fijian flyer was such handful to defend and was a great aerial threat – this guy could be easily the next Semi Radradra.

3. Latrell Mitchell
He did play some centre at the start of the year and this was only spot left to put him in.

His ability to run over anyone at just 19 demonstrates the future this kid has. He isn’t the most skilful but imagine him when he is 25 and fully grown. He could the most damaging ball runner ever seen.

4. Javid Bowen
The nephew of Matthew, Javid really impressed whenever he was given the chance and never looked out of place. He should be playing more first grade.

5. Bevan French
Probably the only shining light in a miserable year for the Eels. The heir apparent to Jarryd Hayne, French scored 19 tries from 13 games. With plenty of speed to burn and just a great sense to be around the ball, he seemed to always be in the right place at the right time.


He saved some certain tries and was ease at taking bombs under pressure. This should see him as a star of the future

6. Nathan Cleary
A 19-year-old who has led and directed his team all the way to the finals, he really has no glaring weakness in his game. He is a great goal kicker, a smart last-tackle option and is tough in defence.

Cleary already looks like a seasoned first grader.

7. Ashley Taylor (c)
The main reason why the Titans not only didn’t come last like most people predicted.

His best assets are his passing game and decision making. For a rookie to be the driving force of a team is something only special players can do.

8. Tevita Pangai Jr
Pinched from the Raiders this year, Pangai Jr has been a real force whenever he has touched the ball. He is very skilfull for his size and joins Anthony Milford as another talented player that left Canberra for Brisbane.

9. Jacob Liddle
Perhaps the missing piece in the Tigers’ young spine, he had his year cut short by injury.

Liddle didn’t play much but showed his potential with nice runs from dummy half big shoes to fill.


10. Daniel Saifiti and 11. Jacob Saifiti
Identical twins, the Safiti were probably only rookies from Newcastle to make any impact this year.

They will form a great combo for the future and are perhaps one of the few glimmers of hope for the Knights.

12. Elliott Whitehead
The ‘Head’ pushed Shaun Fensom out of first grade. Whitehead has been a key for the Raiders on the edge and the great line running of Aiden Sezer made him one of the buys of the year.

13. James Fisher-Harris
He is a very aggressive young forward who didn’t let and injury stop him from being a key to Panther’s pack.


14. Leivaha Pulu
15. Luciano Leiluia
16. Josh Aloiai
17. Connor Watson