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Dragons fullback Matt Dufty at the 2017 Downer NRL Auckland Nines launch.

Our look at the hottest prospects yet to taste first grade football continues, as we take a closer look at the Cowboys, Eels, Panthers and Dragons.

Part 1: Broncos, Raiders, Sharks, Bulldogs
Part 2: Titans, Sea Eagles, Storm, Knights

Marcus Jensen (Cowboys) 

No other player scored more tries than Marcus Jensen in the Holden Cup last year. The Cowboys winger finished with 27 tries from 25 games including hat-tricks against the Knights and Warriors. While teammates Kalyn Ponga, Gideon Gela-Mosby and Brandon Smith attracted the headlines last year, Jensen quietly went about his business with little fanfare. His exploits didn't go unnoticed, however, with Jensen named in the Junior Maroons side for the under-20s Origin match. 

Special mention: Gideon Gela-Mosby. The record-breaking winger can't be far away from an NRL debut. Following on from his absurd 39 tries in 2015 – including four hauls of four - Gela-Mosby added 14 more last season to become the most prolific try-scorer for the Cowboys in the NYC. 

Alex Twal (Eels)

While most NYC players catch your eye through their electrifying performances, players like Alex Twal impress the masses with their unwavering professionalism. Having represented the Junior Kangaroos and the Junior Blues, it's clear the young Eels prop is on the right path to a spot in the NRL side. Twal played 22 matches for Parramatta in 2015 and backed it up with a further 13 games last season where he averaged 33 tackles and 178 metres per game. 

Special mention: Honeti Tuha. A hat-trick hero for the Knights in the 2015 NSW Cup grand final, Tuha moved to the Wentworthville Magpies in 2016 where he excelled on the wing and at fullback and crossed for a treble against his former club when they met in Round 19. 

Viliame Kikau (Panthers) 

The Fijian wrecking ball has the potential to dominate opposition defences like no other front-rower in the game. Kikau crashed over for a record 21 tries from 21 appearances at prop for the Cowboys in the 2015 Holden Cup season and was deservedly named in the NYC Team of the Year. With an unprecedented 129 tackle breaks that year, Kikau was also named the RLPA Player of the Year for 2015. If he can stay injury free next season, don't be surprised to see his name on Penrith's team sheet.

Special mention: Any player from their 2015 and 2016 Holden Cup sides. There are simply too many to choose from.  

Matt Dufty (Dragons)

He's the name on everyone's lips going into 2017 and rightly so. Blessed with breakneck speed and fancy footwork, Matt Dufty is one of the most exciting players yet to play first grade. The Dragons fullback graduated from the NYC as the competition's leading try-scorer (55 from 65 matches) and set up another 40 tries over the past two seasons. Having already played for the Junior Blues, it won't be long until Dufty earns a spot in the famous Red V jersey. 

Special mention: Josh Kerr. The former Thunderbolts star is an attacking weapon in the forward pack and will bolster the Dragons' stocks up front.




Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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