Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Photo by NRL Images
Several prodigies are ready to burst onto the scene this season and become NRL stars.
Heading into most seasons the list of rookies who could stand out and make a name for themselves instantly is usually short but things are a little different in 2023.
There are multiple players yet to play more than five NRL games who are eligible to be the Dally M Rookie of the Year this season who are already receiving hype ahead of what could be a big 12 months for them.
The Melbourne Storm have signed Jack Howarth to a lucrative deal which shows that they have big plans for him and are not looking to keep him from making a name for himself in the NRL for too much longer.
Melbourne’s lack of depth in the forwards could see Howarth start 2023 off the bench or even be given a starting role in the centres.
Panthers junior Isaiya Katoa has received big praise for an 18-year-old and could end 2023 as The Dolphins starting halfback.
The experienced Anthony Milford and Sean O’Sullivan will be the starting halves for Brisbane’s newest franchise at first but if either displays a drop in form then Katoa will be given his chance and likely with more room for error due to his age and lack of experience.
At 26 years old Soni Luke could become the oldest Rookie of the Year in NRL history if he lives up to expectations.
With Apisai Koroisau leaving the Panthers Luke will at least start off the bench for the back-to-back premiers and receive plenty of game time if Ivan Cleary decides to keep the game plan that he used with Koroisau and Mitch Kenny during the second half of last season.
Luke is also coming off of a stellar performance in the 2022 State Championship.
He may only have one NRL game under his belt but Franklin Pele has Bulldogs fans excited about his potential upon his move from the Sharks.
The front rower could earn himself a bench spot in round one if he stands out amongst the Bulldogs group of forwards during the preseason but if not he will likely find himself in first grade at some stage in 2023.
These players will not be the only rookies we are talking about by season’s end though as there are sure to be some hidden gems that make themselves known throughout 2023!
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