Team of the future brimming with talent
WITH the 2016 season officially over for 12 of the 16 NRL clubs it's a good time to select ARM's team of future representative stars.
This is our team of 13 players who have not yet played Origin or Test rugby league but who we believe will reach those representative heights.
They may not have been the best players in their positions this season but in our opinion they are players headed for stardom.
FULLBACK: A number of young players put their hand up here including Cameron Munster, who replaced injured No.1 Billy Slater at the Storm, but, in the end, we settled on exciting youngster Latrell Mitchell, who was simply outstanding for the Roosters this season. This kid has shades of GI about him and is going to be something special.
WING: Impossible to go past Suliasi Vunivalu, the Suva sensation from the Storm who has set a club record for a player in his debut year with 22 tries. The 20-year-old launched his career with a try-scoring double and just kept crossing the line for the rest of the season.
CENTRE: This guy does not fit in the "youth” category but how Canberra's Jarrod Croker has not made a New South Wales Origin side is hard to fathom. There are few more reliable performers in the NRL than the head-geared Croker, who is close to finishing 2016 with 300 points and a possible premiership.
CENTRE: Croker's Raiders teammate Joseph Leilua would have made the team but he has played eight Tests for Samoa, so this spot goes to Parramatta flyer Bevan French, who set the season alight with his blistering pace and ability to score from anywhere on the field.
WING: Many believe this kid is a superstar in the making so we had to find a place for Manly's Tom Trbojevic, who has the rugby league world at his feet. Tall, fast and very evasive, Trbojevic has scored 18 tries in 32 games for Manly and has already been likened to a young Darren Lockyer.
FIVE-EIGHTH: Few players have gone ahead in leaps and bounds as much as Tigers No.6 Mitchell Moses, who has taken his game to another level in 2016 as a ball runner. The Tigers believe they can build a premiership around him.
HALFBACK: The kid Nathan Cleary, and he is still a kid at just 18, gets the No.7 jumper hands down. The son of former NRL star Ivan Cleary has displayed amazing maturity to lead a young Penrith side around the paddock with the help of old head Peter Wallace. He has so many skills and so much talent yet to unveil as well.
FRONT ROW: We are going to push North Queensland's Coen Hess into the front row, although he could play second row or lock because he is so amazingly athletic for a big man. No doubt he is going to play at the highest level in a few years. Has got it all.
HOOKER: I'd be happy to have either Brisbane's Andrew McCullough or Cowboys No.9 Jake Granville. Both excellent dummy halves who play very different styles but have a lot to offer. McCullough gets the nod.
FRONT ROW: Dylan Napa, the big Rooster, has established himself as one of the game's hardest hitters and will make his Origin debut next season if he continues to play his power game. Can get even better with his size and ability to off-load.
SECOND ROW: It's a big rap for James Fisher-Harris that he has already been compared to the Raging Bull Gorden Tallis. The Panther has a fair way to go to live up to those lofty heights but you have to love the way he rips in for a 20-year-old.
SECOND ROW: Ryan James has been pushing for Origin selection for a few years now and at 25 the Titan is probably approaching the prime of his career. Could crack the big time in 2017.
LOCK: Earmarked by Brisbane as the player to replace retired great Corey Parker, Jai Arrow is an impressive and imposing young forward who has already played a dozen or so game for the Broncos and had plenty of admirers prepared to back him to go all the way.
ARM's team of the future: Latrell Mitchell (Roosters), Suliasi Vunivalu (Melbourne), Jarrod Croker (Canberra), Bevan French (Parramatta), Tom Trbojevic (Manly), Mitchell Moses (Wests Tigers), Nathan Cleary (Penrith), Coen Hess (Cowboys), Andrew McCullough (Brisbane), Dylan Napa (Roosters), James Fisher-Harris (Penrith), Ryan James (Gold Coast), Jai Arrow (Brisbane)