August 5, 2020 — 12.01am
South Sydney have ramped up their pursuit of teen talent, signing two standout 17-year-olds to three-year NRL contracts before rugby union could get under their guard.
While the Rabbitohs wait for young gun Joseph Suaalii to formally commit, the club has signed Terrell Kalokalo and Davvy Moale on deals that will result in them earning $200,000 each in the third and final year of their deals. Kalokalo and Moale played alongside Suaalii at SG Ball level and are considered among the best of the bunch at their age level.
South Sydney teen Terrell Kalokalo, pictured with Jarryd Hayne after winning the NSWRL under-16s player of the year award, has signed a three-year NRL deal with South Sydney.Credit:Facebook
All three attend GPS schools, where they also excel in rugby union, and attracted interest from the 15-man game. Kalokalo, currently at Scots College, is an outside back who has been likened to Parramatta centre Michael Jennings. Several good judges felt he was almost as good as Suaalii as they came through the grades and the Roosters attempted to sign him several years ago. The Harold Matthews team-of-the-year representative attended an elite rugby camp on the Gold Coast last year, but chose to remain loyal to the ‘Pride of the League’.
Moale is a promising prop who has been compared to Payne Haas. Capable of playing 80 minutes, the Waverley College student has also made all the representative teams as he climbed through the grades
Their contracts ensure they have a top-30 spot set aside and allow them to train with the NRL team over the summe
Souths officials are also keen to tie down two other promising teens in their system who are yet to commit long term. Half Emmanuel Di Bartolo and outside back Luca Ace-Nasteski, both 17, are signing priorities at Redfern. Ace-Nasteski is the son of art dealer Steve Nasteski, who is advising Suaalii as he mulls over whether to commit to league or union.
At 202 centimetres, Ace-Nasteski could be one of the tallest players in the NRL should he make the grade. However, he is also an outstanding basketballer and has attracted interest from American colleges.
Under NRL rules, players are prohibited from making their first-grade debut until they are 18. However, ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landys has indicated the age limit could be relaxed to ensure Suaalii isn’t lost to league.
Any change could also benefit Kalokalo, Moale, Ace-Nasteski and Di Bartolo, although the quartet’s focus is likely to be on finishing school - they will be in year 12 next year - before turning their attention to potential NRL debuts.
Suaalii only turned 17 on August 1 and there was an expectation he could sign with Souths that day. However, the club has given him space to make a decision.
The Rabbitohs’ pursuit of teen talent will raise more questions about the appropriateness of signing players at such a young age, given the pressure and expectation that comes with rich contracts while still in their teens.