Bright future for young Bronco Su'A
The Brisbane Broncos may have unearthed something special in 18-year-old Jaydn Su'A, with the second-row forward slotting seamlessly into first grade over the first two matches of his NRL career.
Su'A debuted for the Broncos in Round 12 against the Wests Tigers, replacing the Origin-bound Matt Gillett, and the exciting forward received his second start for Brisbane last weekend in the Broncos' 40-14 loss to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs.
In the process, Su'A became the youngest forward to start a match in the nearly three-decade history of the Broncos.
At just age 18 and 216 days, Su'A has already made his impact at the club and if it wasn't for a shoulder injury in the Holden Cup in Round 13, he may have already had more than two NRL matches to his name.
Although recent results haven't gone his way, Su'A has been superb – playing for 80 minutes in both matches, as well as averaging 91.5 run metres and 36 tackles a game.
Broncos Holden Cup coach Craig Hodges has seen Su'A develop since 2015, and he says what Su'A is like as a person is what made him first take notice.
"He's a high quality young man and that's what first struck me," Hodges said.
"I've seen him put in at training… He has a really good work ethic and that's the first thing that impressed me when watching him.
"He has a lot of skills when it comes to his footballing ability, such as his great footwork and superb handling.
"He has such a willingness to learn and that will continue to help his development."
Su'A has been a regular for Brisbane's Holden Cup side this year, with his early-season form earning him a call-up to the Junior Kangaroos.
He produced a man-of-the-match performance in the Junior Kangaroos' 34-20 win over the Junior Kiwis, and Hodges was a keen observer throughout this performance.
Hodges said watching Su'A play both representative football and first grade is great for his Holden Cup teammates as it gives them confidence that they may one day make it into the NRL as well.
"We've really noticed not having him in the Holden Cup when he's moved up into the first grade side," he said.
"If you take quality like that out of any under-20s side then it will always leave a big hole.
"The flipside to it is that it adds excitement to the whole group because they can see their mate doing it on the big stage.
"Everyone was very excited for him. He's done a great job so far in his first grade career."
Su'A has been a shining light for the Broncos in this year's State of Origin period, with Brisbane struggling to cover injuries and Origin representatives over the past five weeks.
The Broncos have lost three from four in the process and it is up to their younger generation to stand up.
One of those is Jarrod Wallace, with the 24-year-old newly promoted to a starting role and fellow forward Adam Blair dropped to the bench.
Wallace was full of praise for Su'A, admitting that the young forward's fitness is what has impressed him the most.
"He's been great so far and I'm sure he'll be a big star in the future. He's only 18 and in his first two starts he's been able to play the full 80 minutes," Wallace said.
"It's hard to do that when you've played 100 games, let alone two. Hopefully Jaydn can keep up his current form because he's been so impressive.
"He's only going to learn and be better as his career goes on. I'm glad he's been given an opportunity and taken it with both hands."