The NRL’s out of the blue gems

Jeremiah Nanai, Phillip Sami, and Herbie Farnworth

This season, Jeremiah Nanai, Phillip Sami, and Herbie Farnworth are the three athletes leading the NRL’s try-scorer list, with four apiece throughout the opening three rounds. One player is just 19 years of age and has played only seven career Rugby League matches to date. Roughly five or so years ago, another player was plying his trade in the Mal Meninga Cup and now has 2X caps for the Queensland Maroons. The third and final player is only 22 years old and was born in Blacko, Lancashire in, England.

There is so much to love about this for many distinct reasons, even if it is still early days. To have a non-Australian in there highlights the growth of players from other nations, which is sorely needed from both a domestic/international perspective. Whilst having two younger players in, there is also an incredible feat. The NRL is in safe hands when the older brigade eventually decides to hang up their boots. And Sami’s inclusion is the perfect example of how hard work and dedication can take you wherever you want to get to in life.

Each player represents a cause drastically different to the last, and it is inconceivably great to witness Australia’s number one game.

Jeremiah Nanai – Five tries in seven appearances for the North Queensland Cowboys

If the Second Rower keeps this up, he should be a Kiwi in no time! However, more importantly than that, the Aucklander shows the world that the constantly under siege NRL possesses a bright future with himself and others in tow. His hat-trick of tries in RD3 against the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium showed others the power he is capable of flexing. Because with the stars of today such as Mitchell Moses (27), Dane Gagai (31), Luke Keary (30), Ben Hunt (32) and Matt Moylan (30) getting older and older, soon it will be the likes of Nanai, electric Fullback and 20-year-old teammate Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and others taking charge of the League and the narrative it produces for its supporters.

The development of players such as himself, Tabuai-Fidow and Farnworth must continue so that the NRL has a constant stream of talent to display, to keep the fan’s content and display the most attractive product possible because they/are the future of the game.

Phillip Sami – Gold Coast Titans flyer!

Referring to my “the constantly under siege NRL” comment, Rugby League in this country constantly cops a battering in one way or another. Whether crowded at NRL games compared to the AFL’s supporter numbers, players doing the wrong thing, or something else, it’s a constant unfortunate black eye on our beloved game. However, Sami is the poster boy for how to do it the right way! He has scored 37 tries from 75 appearances for the ‘holiday strip’ club. In 2019 he set a club record for his chase down on Josh Addo-Carr, as he clocked in at running 39.5km/hr.

He played for several clubs as a junior, including the Springfield Panthers, Goodna Eagles and Eastern Suburbs Tigers, and he attended Ipswich State High School. A school with stabbings wouldn’t have been the best behaviour-wise. However, he persevered and is now a highly respected leader at the Titans. It is so vital that players such as Sami continue to perform at a superior level and don’t get lost in the allure of Super Rugby/European Rugby because they are vital in helping repair the NRL’s tarnished image. And when Sami signed a contract extension earlier this year until the end of the 2024 season, Gold Coast head coach Justin Holbrook had this to say, only further highlighting what a phenomenal asset he is, as per “I’m excited for what Phil can bring, and it’s great news for our club that he will be a Titan for the next three seasons.”

Herbie Farnworth – Herbie is worth the Farm

The Australian Kangaroos are currently NO.2 in the world rankings, while New Zealand is at NO.1. The ‘Aussies’ have won the Rugby League World Cup 11 times and the ‘Kiwis’ once, while no other nation competing in this year’s end of season premier showpiece event has won it! The closest the others have come is England being runners-up three times and France twice, and before 2017, the ‘English’ last made the final in 1995. It is abundantly clear that there are only two top-tier countries when it comes to the sport that is Rugby League, however younger players such as Herbie Farnworth should he continue his upward trajectory, will hopefully push to change that if/when he gets a chance to contest the other formidable nations in the RLWC.

Talents such as himself and Farnworth will be given opportunities to develop over the season and play plenty of footy in preparation for being selected for the England national team. Along with a few Pacific Island nations, they have the potential to rattle the top dogs, and the Rugby League will be all the better because of it! The fact that he’s already starting for Brisbane at his age is a massive credit to him; however, he’s not the only one who will have a projected impact on the international scene, as 20 years of age Centre Dominic Young has scored three tries for Newcastle this season and the United Kingdom-born Attacker has seven from nine overall for the Knights.

Rugby League, both in Australia and internationally, + the NRL itself are all in extremely safe hands with these hard-working players. They are helping lead their club to glory and, better yet, have a bountiful of prime seasons left in them. The NRL perhaps doesn’t always get the wrap it deserves because a few idiot players do the wrong thing. Still, these players are all feel-good stories that should be promoted currently to the greatest possible extent because, for one wrong, there are always about five non-covered or unseen goods.

Toby is somebody who is a knowledgeable and passionate sports fan, but none more than the NRL. From a young age, he has been covering and supporting Australia’s greatest code. He has diplomas in both sports and business, while he loves a good laugh, some good food and travelling.

You don't have permission to register