NRC 2019: Five Sydney & NSW Country Young Guns To Watch
They are all fresh faced and ready to make their mark when the 2019 National Rugby Championship kicks off next week. Meet a handful of talented stars set to make their mark.
Will Harrison (Sydney and Randwick)
Young Harrison has been in the NSW Waratahs system for the past couple of seasons and will be looking to get more time in the No.10 jersey as the NRC season unfolds. The 20-year-old played NRC for Sydney straight out of Randwick Colts last year and got some valuable time at flyhalf.
It wasn’t all perfect but he eventually started to cope with the extra speed and physicality of NRC last year. His good mate Ben Donaldson got the nod for the flyhalf role at Randwick late in 2019 but Sydney coach Chris Whitaker rates him highly and he will get a crack to run things. Keep an eye on this guy!
Will Harris (Sydney and Eastern Suburbs)
Harris came straight from the Australian Schoolboys side at the end of 2018 and into the Waratahs senior squad and has hardly missed a beat. He grabbed some on field time during the Tahs trials at the start of 2019 and has been a consistent contributor at training at Daceyville this season.
Harris is an athletic and skilful No.8 much in the mould of Michael Wells and Stephen Hoiles. He has a massive work ethic suited to the modern game andhas shown flashes of his development when he has got on the field for Easts this year.
Perfectly suited to the pace and skilful nature of the NRC.
Pat Tafa (NSW Country Eagles and Northern Suburbs)
The Waratahs have struggled to replace the great Wycliff Palu like for like but in Tafa they may have found someone who will go some of the way to giving them the go forward needed to win Super Rugby games.
At 194cm and at the moment 110kg, Tafa has shown in the closing weeks of the Shute Shield competition that he is a physical and effective runner as well as being very good over the ball. He’s had two years in the Australia Under 20s system and the more he plays at this level the better he will get.
Tafa racked up five games for the Eagles last year and will be a key part of any pack that NSW Country coach Rob Taylor puts out on the field in the 2019 NRC.
Ben Donaldson (Sydney and Randwick)
He’s got skinny legs and there’s really not much of him but there’s no doubting that this kid is one hell of a footy player. Donaldson is in his first year of senior rugby after playing in the impressive Randwick first grade colts side of 2018. On the back of that he got time off the bench for the Sydney NRC before heading back to the Under 19s system for a couple of games.
He can play at either No.10 or No.15 and is one of those fearless types that likes to play the game on the gain line. He was also an outstanding contributor to the Australia U20s side that did so well in France, being named players’ player in the victory over Argentina in the semi-final.
Ready and suited to the big time.
Mark Nawaqanitawase (Sydney and Eastwood)
This time last year Nawaqanitawase had little idea how the next 12 months of his rugby career would unfold. He was readying himself for the run up to the Higher School Certificate at St Pat’s at Strathfield and feeling reasonably satisfied with his selection in the ISA seconds.
But all that turned around when he had a crack in a series of trials at Daceyville in November and December. His speed and strength were apparent right from the start and the development coaches at the Tahs were also mightily impressed with skill in the air.
The 2019 rolled around and after training with the main group at Daceyville he joined the Eastwood club and also earned selection in the Australia U20s squad. He went on to play every minute in the Junior Wallabies World Championship campaign.
The next challenge is the NRC and a lot people are hoping he continues to impress and improve.