The five young guns who should be celebrated and the one that is Wallabies ready


Australia has always produced tremendously talented rugby players but as a country we’ve had a detrimental tendency to over-hype youngsters, creating unrealistic, unfair, and dangerous expectations for young men in the infancy of their careers.

These players are often touted as the next Wallaby this, the next Wallaby that, by the voices of the game but this robs them of their moment in the sun for what it is, a great moment for a young player looking to stamp their mark on the professional game.

It undervalues Super Rugby Pacific and under appreciates how big the step is from SRP to test-level rugby.

Tim Ryan dives to score his second try against the Blues on April 27, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

However, there is a healthy way to champion these young and exciting talents that have readily appeared in the various iterations of Super Rugby.

Announcing themselves as a raw talent via stellar performances in SRP is awesome for several reasons: it draws eyes from around the globe and gets fans excited about the game which are both vital pieces in growing the game.

Currently, there are five players who are all younger than 23, who are exceeding expectations and who are having hugely positive influences on their Super teams.

Four of these players should continue to be celebrated for their performances, promoted by the game as the young stars and to build an exciting narrative around, while one player is truly worth all the hype and calls for higher honours.

Tim Ryan

The “Junkyard Dog” as he has been affectionately announced as over the weekend had a run-on debut that will be remembered for a long time.

Scoring a hat-trick is a great feat for an experienced winger let alone a rookie who was playing Australian U20s less than 12 months ago.

All 82kgs of the spindly young guns’ frame was lightning quick against the Blues, tough as nails and unpredictable in what was perhaps the game of the tournament in 2024.

What. Just. Happened?!?! ????????#SuperRugbyPacific #REDvBLU

— Super Rugby Pacific (@SuperRugby) April 27, 2024

Each of his three tries showed something different, the first showed he could play, the second showed clinical finishing and the final one showed he has the razzle-dazzle as well as out-and-out pace.

He made 12/14 tackles, ran 12 times for 162m with three clean breaks and five defenders beaten.

Amazing stats and this is even before you consider his three tries, Tim “Junkyard Dog” Ryan, remember the name.

Tom Lynagh

The son of a Wallaby legend has not disappointed in his first two seasons at the Reds and the strides he has made in his game management skills in 2024 have contributed materially to Queensland’s success.

Despite being the smallest of the playmakers in Australia he has the best tackling stats of them all by a country mile.

His 83 per cent completion is the only figure in the 80s, Brumbies’ pivot Noah Lolesio is the only one in the 70s with the rest of them in the 60s.

Tom Lynagh continues to impress for the Reds. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Aside from being tough as nails, his all-round game is perhaps something the other fly-halves lacked at his age, he also has a huge boot he’s using to great effect.

Head coach Les Kiss is managing the youngster expertly along with fellow young gun Harry McLaughlin-Phillips.

Lynagh has a long future at the Reds should he decide to stay and come the 2027 home World Cup, he will be 24 with close to 50 super caps to his name, time is on his side.

Isaac Kailea

Probably the most underrated youngster of the lot but Kailea’s form has kept more experienced players out of the starting side for the Melbourne Rebels with his strong ball running and solid scrummaging.

Nothing proves his value more than when he helped turn around the Rebels’ scrummaging at the weekend against the Crusaders.

In a rare sight the entire front row was replaced in the 31st minute after successive scrum penalties, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese and Kailea steadied the ship immediately.

Kailea is part of a small but impressive batch of young props, with the ambiguities around the Rebels now looking to turn sour, it’s crucial talents like Kailea are retained in Australia.

His prowess for scrummaging alone is a skill in short supply amongst his age group, in years to come he could be a force to be reckoned with.

Miles Amatosero

Some things you can’t teach, and genetics is one of them.

At just 21-years-old Amatosero is 203cm and 125kgs, they’re dimensions not seen in a young lock since a Will Skelton stepped onto the scene over 10 years ago.

However, there is a key difference between the two, Amatosero has a feline athleticism about him.

The young Waratah has been well managed by coach Darren Coleman having started in only two of his nine appearances.

Miles Amatosero has hit the ground running at the Waratahs. Photo: Julius Dimataga, NSW Media

The youngster is being eased into the fast and furious environment of SRP, but he is no stranger to physicality having played 27 games for Clermont in the French Top14.

While a second row pairing of Amatosero and Skelton is a mouthwatering prospect, or even having one on the bench to replace the other, such a sight may not be seen in 2024 due to myriad of factors.

Despite being the only player with the dimensions of an international lock at the Waratahs, he has only showed glimpses of what he can do: blowing up mauls, adding weight at the scrum and carrying over the gain line.

The youngster is still growing into his body and depending on how new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt sees the wider locking stocks, he may look to lean on more tested second rowers in 2024.

Charlie Cale

Last but definitely not least is the explosive Charlie Cale, who is bringing something unique to the competition.

Faster than most of the backs and bigger than them all, Cale is adding a lethal ball running weapon to the Brumbies’ arsenal.

He’s the second highest ball carrier for the Brums, only one spot behind John Eales medallist Rob Valetini.

Whereas the Wallaby no.8 brings the brawn for blunt force contact, Cale brings an elusive dynamism that has seen him make seven line-breaks with six defenders beaten.

Again, Cale and Valetini are miles ahead of the other forwards in the ball carrying stats.

There’s talk that he’s too slight for test level, but at 194cm and 105kgs his frame is only a few kilos shy of the game’s best no.8s like Gregory Alldritt (114kgs), Ardie Savea (99kgs), Ben Earl (107kgs), and Jasper Wiese (110kgs).

Not to mention he’s taller than them all.

Charlie Cale has a big future in Australian rugby. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

Although he’s younger than most of these brawlers (at least three years their junior) he should not be encouraged to ‘pack on some kgs’ as some pundits have called for.

As he grows into his body he will naturally fill out, why burden the things which makes him special right now: dynamism, speed, explosiveness?

His speed makes his 105kgs makes him dangerous, an international he could look to emulate is England’s Ben Earl, who’s carry game has made him one of the best offensive no.8s in the world.

Cale’s speed across the ground is as impressive as it is off it, with 28 lineout wins and a competition leading 12 lineout steals.

This isn’t a call to have him in the starting side, nor is it even endorsement of him in the starting 23 come the July Internationals, rather it is merely a tip of the hat to an exceptional talent.

The Brumbies have regularly been able to develop and then promote Super Rugby ready talent. Rarely are they rushed or undercooked when they earn their call-up.

Cale’s stewardship under Wallaby Pete Samu seems to be invaluable as he is delivering many of the assets he was heralded for.

Cale is ready to be in a Wallabies environment, but most of all he can add something which no one else in Australia can.

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