They’re the next crop of stars set to go from the under 19s representative arena to the NRL, NRLW or Ampol State of Origin in future seasons.
NRL.com picks 10 players to watch across the men's and women's matches in Thursday night’s under 19s Origin clashes at Leichhardt Oval.
Emerging stars to watch
Chantay Ratu (Queensland women)
A tall, athletic playmaker who will start at fullback for the Maroons. Kiria-Ratu played in the halves for Queensland at the recent National Championships, providing a sublime cut-out pass to get the Rubys victory late in the grand final against NSW City. Her twin sister, Anne-Marie Ratu, ruptured her ACL during an NRLW grand final curtain raiser match in April but is also a rising prospect.
Paul Alamoti (NSW men)
Signed with the Bulldogs until 2023, Alamoti is considered one of the most talented upcoming strike centres in the game. An out-and-out speedster, Alamoti who joined the Bulldogs top-30 this year, will be out to break the Maroon’s defensive line when he pulls on the No. 3 jersey for the Origin clash.
Jada Taylor (NSW women)
An up-and-coming fullback from Tamworth who has been playing Tarsha Gale Cup with the Roosters. Taylor scored a double for NSW Country against Queensland at the National Championships earlier this month, showing blistering speed and agility, and is also capable of playing a five-eighth role for the side if required.
Melbourne rookie Jack Howarth is one to watch out for
Jack Howarth (Queensland men)
The Storm extended young back-rower Jack Howarth on a five-year deal back in January - that's the prestige the 19-year-old is held in at Melbourne. The Australian Schoolboys star has been playing mostly centre for the Falcons, but will line up in the back row on Thursday where he is expected to make a big impact. Boasting speed and size at 193cm tall, Howard knows how to find the try-line and is almost impossible to stop close to the line.
Jonah Pezet (NSW men)
The Blues will be in good hands on Thursday with second-generation halfback, Jonah Pezet, expected to bring a great amount of skill and pedigree to the backline. A part of the Storm’s top 30 squad, the son of former South Queensland and Parramatta halfback Troy Pezet, could be the difference between the two sides with his elite passing and kicking game.
Otesa Pule (Queensland women)
A tall powerful back-rower who ironically represented NSW City at the National Championships on residency earlier this month but is a Maroon at heart after growing up in Caboolture. Pule is contracted to the Roosters after moving to Sydney in 2021 and coming through the club’s Tarsha Gale Cup program in recent years. She is a very strong hole runner who will be looking to play off her halves throughout the evening.
Otesa Pule 2021 highlights
Ruby-Jean Kennard (NSW women)
The promising forward recently signed an NRLW contract with the Eels for the upcoming 2022 season, becoming the first women's player to go from the club's junior programs through to the senior side. Kennard has been playing for Wentworthville in the Harvey Norman NSW Premiership before making her National Championships debut for NSW City a fortnight ago.
Sosefo Fifita (Queensland men)
Titans cross-code star Sosefo Fifita, who was named 18th man for the Titans in their NRL clash against the Sharks recently, is a centre with speed to burn. Also arguably one of the hardest defenders in Maroon, the fleet-footed teen also boasts a diverse array of attacking skills and will be one the Blues will be looking to contain.
Emma Paki (Queensland women)
An up-and-coming centre who recently signed an NRLW deal with the Knights, Paki returns to the under 19s Origin scene after playing for the Maroons last year. Paki has spent the past two months at the CQ Capras, where she scored four tries in nine games and produced three try assists, five line breaks and 16 tackle busts.
Trey Mooney (NSW men)
Raiders young gun Trey Mooney will be one of few players with NRL experience in Thursday's Origin clash. The 20-year-old forward made his debut in May after some impressive reserve grade performances. Renowned for making metres, the Australian Schoolboy has been named at lock for the Blues and is expected to make a big impact around the middle of the field.