NRL Trial Wrap: 23 eye catchers from week 1

2019 NRL Supercoach runner-up Walson Carlos highlights the top 23 players that caught his eye from the NRL trials action.


Week-1 of NRL trials can always throw up some Supercoach smokies but buyer beware because historically very few games are genuine representations of NRL standard v NRL standard. 

The first NRL trials of 2024 were very similar, although with teams going to Las Vegas for Round Zero we did see some near full-strength teams lace up. 

The teams I was most impressed with were the efforts of the Newcastle Knights and the New Zealand Warriors. 

Most interesting to note was the Roosters clear change of tactics for season 2024. 

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Traditionally under the coaching of Trent Robinson the Roosters have been deliberately slow out of the blocks. 

Over the last 5-6 years it has not been uncommon to see the Roosters drop early games to lower ranked opponents or scrape home with dour low scoring wins. 

According to James Tedesco in a pre-match interview the Roosters have focussed on a fast start this season and it was evident in their trial match they were sripping fit and they looked fast and physical. 

This could have very positive Supercoach ramifications for Roosters players like Sam Walker and Teddy. 

Anyway, here’s 23 players that caught my eye from the Week 1 trials:

1. Brendan Piakura (Broncos) $426.8k 2RF

Looked electric in scoring two tries early against the Cowboys. Great late footwork at the line and offload ability. 

Unfortunately an MCL strain has him in doubt for round 1 in Vegas.

2. Bronson Xerri (Bulldogs) $345.1k CTW

Should’ve been rusty after such a long stint out of the game for his drug suspension and probably was a bit, but the talent is there. He has Bradman Best vibes. 

3. Sam Hughes (Bulldogs) $238.9k FRF

The FRF cheapie we are hoping for! Did nothing to dishearten Supercoaches against an understrength Storm forward pack, but hey you can only play the team that’s in front of you and he played well no doubt. 

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4. Ryan Papenhuyzen (Storm) $645.6k FLB

Did enough in his return game to say he’s going to be Supercoach relevant once again. Might lose the goalkicking though which would hurt. 

5. Will Pryce (Knights) $345k FLB

Englishman who played the second half mainly against a weakened Sharks side, but his touches were quality. Could he start at right winger for the Knights and get DPP for CTW? 

6. Dylan Lucas (Knights) $502.3k 2RF/CTW

Couldn’t be more impressive with his two try effort and combination with Jackson Hastings. Kai Pearce-Paul the other English recruit is the other challenger for the left 2RF spot at the Knights so there’s a bit to play out yet. 

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7. James Tedesco (Roosters) $707k FLB

Looked very very sharp in a performance that would’ve had Supercoaches salivating at the thought of Teddy’s return to form after a below par 2023. 

8. Jack Cogger (Knights) $463.5k HFB

Huge call but we could be talking at the end of the season about how Jack Cogger to the Knights was the buy of the year. He’s playing very impressive halves footy and is a serious chance of starting at 6 for the Knights in Rd 1 for mine. 

9. Sam Walker (Roosters) $610k HFB

I’ve been impressed with the way Sam Walker has gone away and worked on aspects of his game over the first couple of years. No doubt his defence, goalkicking and decision making were all areas of improvement for him as a young half, and to be fair he’s done the work quietly and simply he’s gotten better as a player. Walker is in for a big season both NRL and Supercoach-wise I feel. 

10.Tommy Talau (Sea Eagles) $287.6k CTW

Didn’t do a great deal in the trial but what he did do looked quality and he now looks a chance to start at left centre and if he does get a start at that price in the attacking juggernaut that is Manly he’d almost be a must have in CTW. 

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11. Ben Trbojevic (Sea Eagles) $277.4k CTW/2RF

If …. If Josh Shuster’s injury lingers and Burbo gets the left 2RF spot for the opening month or so he could be a great cash cow. 

12. Brendan Hands (Eels) $342.3k HOK

If he’s an 80min hooker …… now I’m interested. 

13.  Kelma Tuilagi (Eels) $373k 2RF

Unlikely to start on the edge for the Eels with Cartwright and Lane the preferred 2RFs. Tuilagi did everything he could to press his claims though. He trialled outstandingly. 

14. Peter Hola (Raiders) $238.9k FRF

Shocked at the sheer size of this human being. Looked good in limited minutes. 

15. Davvy Moale (Rabbitohs) $268.5k FRF

11 runs for 110m and a crash over try. Moale has had huge wraps on him for a few years now and he’s been slowly but surely working his way into the NRL. Is this the year he explodes as a FRF gun? 

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16. Ali Leiataua (Warriors) $238.9k FLB/CTW

I genuinely believe after watching the trial today in Christchurch that RTS will be left centre and the right centre position at the Warriors is a competition between Ali Leiataua and Rocco Berry. 

Leiataua is a special talent destined for big things in the game. I hope he gets the start for Rd 1 and gives us a great CTW cheapie 

17. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Warriors) $539.6k CTW

Briliant return…. Looks bigger but just as fast and elusive and he can carry that extra bulk playing in the centres. Defensively he was outstanding today….but there’s greater challenges to come in that department I’d say. 

18. Herbie Farnworth (Dolphins) $632.6k CTW

In the upper echelon of CTW’s in the game already and looks to be a focal point of the Dolphins attack in 2024. You’ll have to pay up for him but he could well deliver. Great trial from Herbie!

19. Jacob Laban (Warriors) $204.3k 2RF

You would assume that Kurt Capewell will play one edge, most likely left 2RF and that would leave the right 2RF position for possibly Jackson Ford or Marata Niukore. Don’t rule out this kid Jacob Laban. He was impressive in the trial and looks to have the style of game like a Briton Nikora that would really be suited to running off SJ on the right edge. 

20. Leka Halasima (Warriors) $204.3k 2RF

Another of the Warriors kids coming through that was supremely impressive in Sunday’s trial match. Halasima has something special about him. Cheapie Alert. 

21.  Solomona Faataape (Tigers) $204.3k CTW

I would imagine the centres for the Tigers will be Olam and Toa. Faataape is a basemement dollar cheapie who showed in the trial vs the Warriors he’s more than capable. 

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22. Api Koroisau (Tigers) $572.2k HOK

Goalkicking. Tick. Carving up in the middle of the park. Tick. Focal point of Tigers attack. Big tick! Please Benji let Api play as an 80min HOK for us Supercoaches sake. 

23. Semi Valemei (Cowboys) $671.6k CTW

Burst onto the scene late last year after a mid-season transfer from Canberra to the Cowboys and scored 9 tries from nine games. 

In a totally understrength side against an almost full-strength Broncos side Valemei’s stats read 15 runs for 198m with a try and 7 tackle breaks. Phenomenal…. and still paying $101 for top season tryscorer in some markets. Surely worth a fiver?

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