The last ever NYC Team of the Year has been released by the NRL and while it doesn't include a massive #KiwiNRL contingent, there's still a strong group of cuzzies who have earned selection. It's important to note that the best talent may not be playing too much NYC footy as they are either in the NRL already, or making the step up to compete against men in reserve grade.
So, before jumping into the NYC TOTY, it's just as funky to highlight the 2017 Junior Kiwis who have either made their NRL debuts this year or have played in the NRL this year. Isaiah Papalii has been in and out of the Warriors team, Siosifa Talakai has also endured an inconsistent season with the Rabbioths in terms on minutes while Erin Clark enjoyed a brief stint in the NRL with the Warriors before moving to Canberra.
From the 2016 Junior Kiwis we've seen Brad Abbey get a stint at fullback for the Bulldogs, Jamayne Isaako and his JK halves partner Ata Hingano have both enjoyed NRL minutes this season as well. Brandon Smith made his debut an looks at ease in the NRL, Esan Marsters has emerged as an NRL regular at centre while Nathaniel Roache and Papalii were also selected in the 2016 JKs.
Also noteworthy; Esan Marsters was a JK in 2016 and this year the JK had Steven Marsters at fullback. Steven is with the Dragons and is technically Esan's cousin as he is the son of Esan's mum's twin sister. Cousin/brother as they probably spent a fair bit of time together growing up.
Greg Leleisiuao (Eels), Sione Katoa (Sharks) and Briton Nikora (Sharks) were selected in the 2017 NYC TOTY, while Kalyn Ponga was also selected and we're none the wiser about his representative future. Leleisiuao has been a JKs staple over the last two years, Nikora earned JK selection this year and Katoa hasn't been given a JK nod, which is likely thanks to the #KiwiNRL depth at this level on the wing.
The 2017 JK team had Leleisiuao on one wing and Dragons outside back Patrick Herbert on the other wing. Herbert hasn't been playing NYC though as he's been knocking around in reserve grade, playing centre for Illawara Steelers. Herbert started alongisde another #KiwiNRL centre Taane Milne on the weekend, so Herbert's effectively too good for the NYC and the NYC TOTY.
Here's some hard and fast stuff on our #KiwiNRL NYC TOTY selections...
#KiwiNRL: Left Mangere East Hawks to move to Queensland where he linked up with Gold Coast Titans.
Nek Year: He'll be pushing for an NRL wing spot and he's arguably the hottest outside back not in the NRL, however the Eels have wing depth even with Sem Radradra leaving (Josh Hoffman, Kirisome Auva'a). Leleisiuao will make his NRL debut nek year.
#KiwiNRL: Katoa was born in Hamilton and came to the Sharks via Parramatta Eels.
Nek Year: Cronulla also had Jesse Ramien named at centre for the NYC TOTY, so they've got outside back depth. Gerard Beale is out the door though which could open up an opportunity for Katoa to impress over summer and demand selection.
#KiwiNRL: Not a whole lot of info is floating around about Nikora, other than the Sharks website stating that he came to the Sharks via Tweed Heads which is up on the Gold Coast.
Nek Year: Look for Nikora's name around Origin time next year, especially if Luke Lewis happens to get injured while Wade Graham's on Origin duty. Kurt Capewell's next in line on Cronulla's edge forward depth chart, with Nikora right there ready to go.
#KiwiNRL: Former age-group golf champ who spent a hefty chunk of his childhood in the Manawatu.
Nek Year: Ponga is off to Newcastle Knights where he'll be given the fullback spot and he'll get consistency in selection, which should see him blossom into a gun.
Peace and love 27.
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