Broncos young guns to watch at the NRL Nines

 

The NRL Nines squads are out and a number of big-name stars are headed to Perth this weekend to battle it out for pre-season glory.

But, as exciting as the Cameron Munsters and the Shaun Johnsons of the NRL are, what is just as intriguing are the up-and-comers among the squads.

The NRL Nines will provide an insight into who could be pushing for a first-grade berth in 2020 and the potential they have for your club in the future.

We have crunched the numbers and analysed who are the players to watch from the three Queensland clubs, plus the Brisbane Broncos NRLW team.

Here's who to keep an eye out for when the two Broncos sides play:

Tesi Niu is gunning for a spot in Brisbane’s backline. Picture: Peter Wallis.
Tesi Niu is gunning for a spot in Brisbane’s backline. Picture: Peter Wallis.

TESI NIU

HIGHLY regarded as a star of the future, the Tongan international is certain to push for his NRL debut this year.

The Marsden State High School product was one of the breakout players of the international season - starring for the Mata Ma'a in the World Cup Nines and in their 14-6 victory over Great Britain - and has since been mentioned as an outside contender for Brisbane's No.1 jersey.

While it's unlikely he will be there as soon as Round 1, the versatile teen will have a chance to prove himself at the Nines.

New recruit Jesse Arthars at Broncos training. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt.
New recruit Jesse Arthars at Broncos training. Picture: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt.

JESSE ARTHARS

NIU is not alone in putting pressure on fullback Jamayne Isaako, with Arthars also gunning for the No. 1 jersey.

The former Titan and Rabbitoh signed a two-year deal with the Broncos at the end of last year, in what was a reunion with his one-time South Sydney coach, Anthony Seibold.

The Nines will be his first Broncos appearance and, with Herbie Farnworth and Xavier Coates also pushing for first grade spots, Brisbane's backs are expected to thrill.

Forward Ethan Bullemor is pushing for an NRL debut in 2020. Picture: Peter Wallis.
Forward Ethan Bullemor is pushing for an NRL debut in 2020. Picture: Peter Wallis.

ETHAN BULLEMOR

NORTHS Devils gun Bullemor has impressed at Red Hill this pre-season and has been rewarded with a Nines appearance.

The former Nudgee College student - who boasts an OP 1 - is known for his strong work ethic and has the reputation of a perfectionist.

While Brisbane have great depth in their forward pack, Bullemor could press for an NRL debut during Origin time.

Cory Paix is in the frame for the No. 14 jersey. Picture: Peter Wallis.
Cory Paix is in the frame for the No. 14 jersey. Picture: Peter Wallis.

CORY PAIX

LABELLED a Cooper Cronk clone like his new teammate Brodie Croft, Paix is right in the frame to claim Brisbane's super-sub role in the No. 14 jersey in 2020.

The Nines will be his chance to prove to Seibold why he deserves that spot.

Having grown up as a half, Paix has made the move to hooker and impressed with Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup last year.

Ilikena Vudogo’s impressive efforts with Souths Logan have seen him earn a promotion to Brisbane’s main squad. Picture: SUPPLIED.
Ilikena Vudogo’s impressive efforts with Souths Logan have seen him earn a promotion to Brisbane’s main squad. Picture: SUPPLIED.

ILIKENA VUDOGO

COREY Parker has predicted that Fiji will go "berserk" when they see Vudogo pull on a Broncos jersey at the Nines.

Brisbane signed the young speedster from Fijian Rugby in 2018, with Vudogo drawing comparisons to former Parramatta star Semi Radradra.

He was originally signed to a two-year development contract but after scoring five tries in nine games for Souths Logan in the Intrust Super Cup, he has been promoted to the main squad.

Jayme Fressard has endured a tough run ahead of her Broncos debut. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling
Jayme Fressard has endured a tough run ahead of her Broncos debut. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling

JAYME FRESSARD

ONE of the feel good stories at the NRLW Nines, Fressard will finally don a Broncos jersey after two years of waiting.

The former rugby sevens player signed with the Broncos ahead of the inaugural NRLW season but was ruled out before Round 1 after rupturing her ACL and MCL.

During her recovery she also suffered an ankle ligament injury, ending any chance of a comeback in 2019.

The Nines will be her chance to prove why she could be a top talent in women's rugby league.

Tahlulah Tillett is preparing to make her comeback from injury at the NRLW Nines. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling
Tahlulah Tillett is preparing to make her comeback from injury at the NRLW Nines. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling

TAHLULAH TILLETT

CAIRNS product Tillett is another who has suffered from a horror run with injury.

The proud north Queenslander was ruled out for six months in 2017 with a torn lateral meniscus in her left knee.

Then ahead of the inaugural NRLW season in 2018, she ruptured her right ACL. In her first game back with West Brisbane last year, she tore her right MCL.

It's been a rough trot and she suffered a scare at training on Sunday, but the touch football gun should be right for her greatly-desired return.

Hayley Maddick has made the switch from touch football to rugby league, playing both codes with the Brisbane Broncos.
Hayley Maddick has made the switch from touch football to rugby league, playing both codes with the Brisbane Broncos.

HAYLEY MADDICK

THE 2019 Touch Football Dally M Player of the Year will make the switch to rugby league this weekend.

Touch footy players are known for excelling at the Nines format and that should give Maddick an upper hand.

A Broncos player in both codes, Maddick has played league in the past with Souths Logan.

Tanika Marshall is a promising up-and-comer in women’s rugby league. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling
Tanika Marshall is a promising up-and-comer in women’s rugby league. Picture: AAP Image/Richard Gosling

TANIKA MARSHALL

THE Fijian international is quickly rising through the rugby league ranks.

The Brothers Ipswich talent has yet to play in the NRLW, but will be keen to put her name forward with the Broncos this week after training as a development player last year.

She debuted for Fiji in 2019 and will also play for the Indigenous All Stars later this month.

Raecene McGregor, celebrating a try in last year’s NRLW grand final, is expected to go to new heights in 2020. Picture: AAP.
Raecene McGregor, celebrating a try in last year’s NRLW grand final, is expected to go to new heights in 2020. Picture: AAP.

RAECENE McGREGOR

MCGREGOR is no stranger to those familiar with the women's game, but she remains "one to watch" as she goes from strength to strength on the field.

The NRLW premiership winner is tipped for a big 2020, especially as her combination with Brisbane skipper Ali Brigginshaw grows.

The Kiwi half was named Player of the Tournament in last year's women's World Cup Nines and, at just 22, is yet to reach her full potential.