The best rookies set to debut next season

Plenty of rookies will be making their case for a debut in 2021, and PAUL CRAWLEY has run his eyes over the 80 best NRL prospects.

Paul Crawley

December 23, 2020 - 6:00AM

News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom


Blake Taaffe (halves/fullback): From The Entrance on the NSW Central Coast and can play fullback and in the halves. Has some pretty handy players ahead of him in Adam Reynolds, Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell. But Taaffe was brought up into the bubble towards the end of 2020 to play fullback in opposing sessions when Corey Allan was elevated into the No.1 jersey and Taaffe didn’t look out of place.

Lachlan Ilias (five-eighth): Played Australian Schoolboys rugby union from Trinity Grammar, a five-eighth with a flashy step and good speed. Has all the skills but a particularly good running game. Lined up in the halves alongside Taaffe in the 2019 premiership-winning Jersey Flegg side.

CJ Mundine. Picture: Bryden Sharp

Davvy Moale. Picture: Lars Roy

Joshua Cook (hooker): From La Perouse, this youngster is no relation to Damien Cook but is part of the Longbottom family that has a rich Rabbitohs history. Not an out-and-out flying machine like the fella who currently owns the No 9 jumper. But this Cook has good dummy half skills with strong defence and might get a call up around Origin.

CJ Mundine (outside back): The son of Anthony Mundine who is training pre-season with the NRL squad. The former Dragons junior has a style similar to his famous father, fast and skilful, although he’s said to have a personality that is a bit more reserved.

Davvy Moale (prop): Has been compared to a young Payne Haas. Played reps in league and union coming through and also won a scholarship at Waverley College. He is only 18 and just finished school but he has the build and can play big minutes.


So is Josh Cook,Bruce Longbottom’s(aka Bruce Cook)son?
Anyone know?

Who will debut:

Taafe - If Walker is retained for NSW, Most Likely.
Moale - Not out of the realms but we may keep him away until 2022.
Mundine - No
Ilias - No (Unless Taafe is injured but also have to consider Dargan)
J Cook - Definitely for Origin

I didn’t know they brought Taaffe into the bubble. I really hope he’s given a go if Cody plays origin, that’d be exciting to see. I’ve crapped on about how I rate Taaffe ad nauseum enough lately. Dargan sucks.

I’ve been thinking for a while that to keep young Cook, we may have to find a spot for him on the bench sooner rather than later… I expect this to happen in 2022, but a quality debut come origin could force Bennetts hand.

I never really thought of Moale as a prospect for 2021, I still don’t. He’s gotta play against men before making that step up and that takes a season at minimum. Even the twins needed Reggies. I reckon he’ll be bloody close to the 17 come 2022 finals, if not in the side.

Ilias or CJ debuting in 2021 would likely be the result of a crisis… In the case of Ilias, that’s an amazing option to have. CJ is supposedly quite good too.


Yes he is Bruce’s son.

My bad, he is Dave Cooks son… Dave is Bruce’s brother.

I work with Josh’s uncle.


Thanks for that Rod

rugbyleagueguru One guy to keep an eye out for in 2021, all the ability in the world and from a great family I know pretty well. This kid is a clubs dream, South Sydney know they’re very lucky to have him. We’re tipping you’ll see Josh make his debut as soon as Damien Cook is injured or playing Origin, if not for Covid you’d already know him and be impressed. SuperCoavh players need to have Cook in your black book, you’ll all need him at some point during 2021!