With limited movement in the player market begins to reinforce the club are leaning on the distibution of juniors being blooded within the squad over the next 2-3 years. A few are seen as guarentees for stardom while others are seen as potential players but could or could not work out.
Firstly is the big one in Blaize Talagi. He is the only junior to have a top 30 deal. His game resembles Dylan Brown a bit in the sense of defence, talent and looks from body shape to face. Talagi is a more versatile player which makes his pathway to NRL a bit easier since he can play Five-Eighth, Centre, Fullback or Utility on the bench. I can see him debut in 2024, though i also can see him getting the Centre spot mid 2024 if Simonsson and Harper are not working out. But i could also see him getting a 14 spot as the back replacement that can play a hover type role in the middle late in the game. Are not making plays for Centres, besides a make shift player like Harper or a year by year acquition in Scott, as Talagi is the future? Being 18 turning 19, he has yet to debut in NSW Cup and had a injury fueled year in 2023 he will need time. Hopefully he is able to get a starting spot in NSW Cup quickly. He is off-contract in 2024 which puts pressure on us if other clubs come calling. Give him til 2026 and i can see him starting at Centre with him replacing Moses in the halves after some time.
Another is Sam Tuivaiti who has a top 30 deal in 2025. Turning 19 in 2024, he has already played U19's NSW and U19's City, still eligable for both in 2024. Debuted inn NSW Cup also in 2023. He is getting primed to replace RCG in 2026. Tuivaiti also has a clear path to the NRL with both RCG and Ofahengaue off-contract in 2025, Tuivaiti will replace one of them. As for 2024, i can see him getting a debut, even if it is a game or two i see him getting some game time. The club seems smitten with him.
Charlie Guymer is not a world beater, but he is that workhorse player that BA loves. His will, committment and determination will get him a debut. Though i see him getting it in 2025. Guymer got some NSW cup game time though i feel as a player his game is better suited as a workaholic Lock, who will work his arse off making 50-60 tackles and making 15 runs. Always good to have that in your squad. Could he get a debut in 2024? Perhaps but i see him getting a lot of game time in NSW cup to prove his worth. Though his path is a bit muttled, Lane and Cartwright are locked up til 2025 at least, Doorey also 2025. We also signed Tapau from Townsville as a 18 year old for this year. His best chance is as a Matterson replacement in a middle rotation. He is a natural leader which helps, as does his ability to play some Centre, considering he was a Centre in Harold Matts.
Richie Penisini is 18 turning 19, tall and athletic. Completely different player to Will, he is taller and has an offload. He does not possess speed and needs a little more work on his defence. His pathway can work as a Winger to start with Sivo, Dunster and Russell off-contract in 2025 and Simonsson in 2024. Penisini can be a good NRL winger if he is willing to put in work in the outfield. He can jump for a high ball and feed his Centre well. Though he needs the weight room. Only issue is even though depth is an issue at the club in backs it is more so quality as NSW Cup backs are chock a block. Russell at 1 with Dunster and Lumelume on Wings, Cini and Harper at Centre (Maybe Scott). Penisini needs an injury or NRL call-up to get a look in, even then not guarenteed. Ethyn Martin is 21, not Flegg eligable in 2024 so he also has a chance to jump Richie. 2024 could be a Flegg year for Richie, oddly enough no rush for him. Though i could also see him coming out of nowhere and being a starter for us as a Winger. Debuting at Centre as a 18 year in NSW Cup speaks volumes.
Ethan Sanders will be starting in NSW Cup at 7, i am fine with that. A thriving NSW cup team helps our depth, Sanders will help. Though could also see us using him as leveredge to get a player off Canberra we might use. Sanders is no value to us post 2024. Could he debut? Only if both Brown and Moses are out at the same time. Asi still gets first nod as back-up half. Sanders has the hardest path to all juniors listed here, hence why he is leaving.
Jock Brazel showed promise, but seems to not be up to NRL level. Seems to be a hard worker and played a few Cup games, but does not look good enough. His path to NRL will be assisted with more Cup games, which i think he gets but we seem pretty settled with edge back-rower.
Api Twiddle could be the smokey for best of these rookies. He can play Fullback, has the size to play Centre, even Wing for that matter. He was a Five-Eighth by trade coming to the club. He will feature in NSW Cup at some point, i bet he will be the Fullback by years end. He is still 18 i believe so time to develop and take his time. But for some reason i see him being the pick of the bunch to surprise us and everyone in the media too who believes others are the future. His pathway is open with his versatility and size. He is signed til 2025 so he has time in his favour. Could he debut in 2024? I think there is a chance if he gets constant game time in NSW Cup. Could he beat Russell for the Fullback spot in NSW Cup? Yes, i think he can. Though securing a Centre or Wing spot i feel is more realistic for him compared to other backs.
Ethyn Martin age could be the issue. He might not get much NSW cup game time, had he been 20 he could have had a whole Flegg season to develop and be a candidate for a Wing spot in 2025. He needs work defensively and to build his body up a lot more before considering NRL. His pathway at the moment is muddled, unless there are injuries where the likes of Dunster, Russell and Lumelume are getting game time in NRL or are the ones injured, i do not see him getting games, Then in 2025 the likes of Richie Penisini and Twidle will take his spot further as they are younger and had more development.
Is 2024 the year to blood talent? Well i am always in favour of blooding players, nothing i love more than seeing a debutant play for Parramatta. Though on top of that comes the pain of a season like 2018, now though i see it being similar to 2018, it wont be as bad. Reason to believe that is 2018 we did not expect to be that bad, after the 54-0 defeat in Round 2 to Manly it was a snowball effect as a club who did not know what was happening. This year i think they will blood some if the season is not going to plan, prepare for 2025 with some kids.