The NRL stars with union experience that could see them thrive in Super Rugby and for the Wallabies

Wallabies coach Eddie Jones has made it perfectly clear he has his eye on a few NRL stars who were lost to the 15-man game – and there is certainly a big cohort of players that can make that step.

When Jones was officially announced as axed coach Dave Rennie’s replacement at the helm of the Wallabies, he was well aware there was a lot that needed to be overhauled. 

And while Jones was keen to point out that his number-one priority was developing those already in the code and its grassroots – the man who loves having both players and coaching staff with elite rugby league experience made it clear there were a few NRL stars he had his eye on.

‘No. 2 [priority] is to get back players who were lost initially from rugby to rugby league due to the financial inducements that league are able to give the players. We want to get players back who are lost,’ Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald in January.

‘I’m sure the allure of playing in a home Rugby World Cup [in 2027] might be something to attract them back.’ 

A mock-up image of how soon-to-be union convert Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii would look in a Wallabies jumper (digitally altered image)

A mock-up image of how soon-to-be union convert Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii would look in a Wallabies jumper (digitally altered image)

In one of the great shocks in recent memory, Roosters prodigy Joseph Aukuso Suaalii has already announced his defection; with Cameron Murray, Angus Crichton and Will Penisini others that have publicly commented, and not shut the door on a defection of their own.

So, who could do it? Rugby union is an intensely-technical game, and prior experience is a must – so Daily Mail Australia has gone back through the archives to assemble an entire NRL team of talent that could make the leap. 

Of course there are a number of NRL players with union experience who could thrive in the 15-man code. Those who didn’t quite make the cut are: Tolu Koula, Connor Watson, Tepai Moeroa, Jaydn Sua, Taane Milne and Tui Kamikamica. 

Here’s a full team of 17 NRL players who could easily make the switch back to rugby union. 

1 – Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow 

NRL position: Fullback. Union position: Wing. 

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow's (centre) electric speed and footwork would make him a valuable asset in rugby union

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow’s (centre) electric speed and footwork would make him a valuable asset in rugby union 

The lightning-quick Dolphins fullback made waves when storming onto the NRL scene with the Cowboys – but that was only made possible when the club nabbed ‘Hammer’ from the Queensland Reds for just $2000. 

He was just 18 when lighting up an NRL Nines tournament with his pace and footwork after Cowboys recruiters spotted him completely dominate a union game while playing for Brisbane Grammar School. They knew there and then they had something special, and the rest is history.

For his part, Tabuai-Fidow would be equally as happy in the 15-man code. 

‘I didn’t really get picked up by league when I was younger, so I tried union out. I got pretty far in union. I would have been pretty happy even if I got a professional contract in rugby,’ he said in 2020.

He is somewhat small for a modern-day fullback, but his blinding speed would be such an asset in union on a wing; but no doubt he would bulk up a touch for the breakdown.   

2 – Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii

NRL position: Centre. Union position: Fullback, outside centre. 

Joseph Suaalii was a once-in-a-generation union player with Kings in Sydney's elite school system

He then signed with the Rabbitohs in the NRL, before a high-profile switch to the Roosters (pictured)

Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii was a prodigy with famed rugby union nursery Kings (left) in Sydney’s elite school system before a high-profile move to the NRL (right). He’ll return to the 15-man code in 2025

He was billed as the greatest rugby prodigy of his generation. Then he signed with the Rabbitohs (before his high-profile move to the Roosters), and the entire Aussie rugby community sighed with despair. 

Suaalii, who hails from Western Sydney, was given a scholarship to prestigious song Kings, a famed rugby nursery, and it was clear right from the outset he was something special. He shined at fullback, outside centre and fly half alongside then-teammate, now Eels star Will Penisini, and at 196cm and 98kg is the prototype for a rugby union backline utility. 

Hype around prodigious talents often descend into dramatic hyperbole, but in this case, Suaalii has the potential to be one of the top union backline players in the world, but potential and output are obviously still very different things, that being said. 

Of course this is not a hypothetical ‘how good could Suaalii be in union’, no, Eddie Jones has already gotten his man, and the Roosters starlet will leave the NRL after next season –  just in time for a home World Cup in 2025. 

Can’t wait to see his brilliant running game in action. Can he kick though? There’s still a few unanswered questions in what is an increasingly deep pool of talented young backline players. Max Jorgensen will give him one hell of a fight for the no. 15 jersey he so desperately craves, to start with.  

3 – Will Penisini

NRL position: Centre. Union position: Inside centre. 

Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii (left) and Will Penisini (right, pictured after Samoa played Tonga in last year's Rugby League World Cup) played together at Kings - could they reunite in the Wallabies green and gold in the coming years?

Joseph-Aukuso Suaalii (left) and Will Penisini (right, pictured after Samoa played Tonga in last year’s Rugby League World Cup) played together at Kings – could they reunite in the Wallabies green and gold in the coming years?

Suaalii might garnered a lot of the attention when they played at Kings, taking the elite private school GPS competition by storm, but Eels star Will Penisini was also obviously destined for stardom. 

The rugged runner and punishing defender wore the no. 13 jersey with the maturity of a seasoned Super Rugby veteran and his highlights package is something to behold. Jones will no doubt be keen on bringing him back to the 15-man game given the 20-year-old has had such a brilliant start to his NRL career with the Eels. 

Footy legend Laurie Daley even said he was ‘just as good as Suaalii’, such was the impressive skills he displayed in union, where he captained Kings to an undefeated 2020 season after winning the title in 2018. 

He’s got Wallaby written all over him and would provide much-needed defensive mongrel to the side at inside centre. Not inconceivable to imagine Penisini and Suaalii as a World Cup-winning centre combination. No? One can only dream.  

4 – Murray Taulagi

NRL position: Centre. Union position: Fullback, wing. 

Murray Taulagi celebrates a try for the Cowboys last year, where he finished as the club's leading tryscorer - but the star winger has a strong union background as well

Murray Taulagi celebrates a try for the Cowboys last year, where he finished as the club’s leading tryscorer – but the star winger has a strong union background as well

Like Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, whiz kid Murray Taulagi was a rugby union prodigy in the Queensland GPS school system, before being spotted by Cowboys recruiters after dominating a match in the 15-man code. And yet again, the rest is history.

The 189cm, 103kg bull has been a revelation at the Cowboys, stunning fans and legends of the game alike with wizard-like skills, be it putdowns or insane flick passes, and quickly managed to score himself Maroons and Kangaroos jerseys. 

And it was all possible thanks to a day Tualagi has described as ‘life-changing’ when Cowboys recruiter Clint Zammit offered him a three-year deal to join the North Queensland-based NRL club just a day after seeing him dominate for in a Queensland schoolboys rugby union game.

‘It took just one look at Muzz (Taulagi) for me to know he had what it took to make it,’ Zammit told News Corp last year of the moment he recruited Taulagi in 2016.

‘I’d seen him playing rugby at Brisbane State High the week before and I got a glimpse of a special player, so I flew down from Townsville the following week to watch him play in a big game against Nudgee College, after getting in touch with his agent.

‘Muzz was playing fullback in rugby and he was over six foot with a big frame … and had this outstanding balance when he moved.’

While he would of course be able to play a number of backline positions in union, he would be a devastating try-scoring threat on a wing in particular, and is the perfect size and skill-set to make a seamless transition. 

5 – Mikaele Ravalawa

NRL position: Wing. Union position: Wing. 

Mikaele Ravalawa has been a revelation for the Dragons since originally been plucked to join the NRL after playing for the Crusaders' under 18s side

Mikaele Ravalawa has been a revelation for the Dragons since originally been plucked to join the NRL after playing for the Crusaders’ under 18s side

Rampaging Dragons winger Mikaele Ravalawa grew up in the rugby union-mad Fijian island, Galoa, and captained the country’s under 18s Sevens side before moving to New Zealand on a scholarship to play the 15-man code. 

He played for Super Rugby powerhouse the Crusaders’ under 18s side, before being spotted by legendary Raiders recruiter Peter Mulholland and brought across to Australia.

After 46 tries from 69 NRL matches for the Dragons, it’s safe to say he has made his mark on the NRL thanks to his powerful running that has seen him already notch up 23 tackle breaks from just four games. 

He is almost a clone of 2019 John Eales Medallist Marika Koroibete, a fellow native of Fiji who has been brilliant for the Wallabies since switching after a 74-game career for the Tigers and Storm. 

Would no doubt be brilliant on a wing for any Super Rugby club, and certainly has enough upside to break into international rugby, too. 

6 – Kalyn Ponga

NRL position: Fullback, five-eighth. Union position: Fullback, Fly-half. 

A mock-up of Kalyn Ponga in a Queensland Reds Super Rugby jumper is unsettlingly seamless - he looks like he belongs in the 15-man code, which he played as a youngster (digitally altered image)

A mock-up of Kalyn Ponga in a Queensland Reds Super Rugby jumper is unsettlingly seamless – he looks like he belongs in the 15-man code, which he played as a youngster (digitally altered image)

Before Knights and Maroons superstar Kalyn Ponga was one of the most talked-about figures in rugby league, he was a schoolboy prodigy in union. 

And an AFL, golf and league prodigy. So much so, before signing with the Cowboys as a 15-year-old, he was pursued by six clubs across three sports (Roosters, Broncos, Storm, Cowboys, Lions and Reds).

Born in Western Australia to a Kiwi father of Maori descent, Ponga also spent five of his formative years in New Zealand; and once spoke of his ambition to one day play for the All Blacks, who he has described as the ‘best sporting organisation in the world’. Which of course has prompted unprecedented speculation every time his sizeable contract demands come up.

And when you watch his highlights playing for iconic Brisbane rugby union nursery ‘Churchie’ – otherwise known as Anglican Church Grammar School – it isn’t hard to see why. 

Donning his signature headgear, a lithe Ponga cuts through hapless defenders like a hot knife through butter, thanks to his lethal step and so-called ‘gooseys’ – and he can kick too.

If you were design a prototype fullback/fly-half in modern-day rugby union, Ponga would be it. Same goes in the NRL for a fullback/five-eighth, where he has split time during his stop-start 99-match career that has seen almost unprecedented levels of hype.

He just has to stay on the field, which is increasingly appearing to be a significant problem for the Knights, who shelled out an astonishing $1.4million a year for him. 

7 – Lachlan Ilias

NRL position: Halfback. Union position: Scrum-half. 

Lachlan Ilias kicks at goal while playing rugby union for Trinity Grammar as a schoolboy

Lachlan Ilias kicks at goal while playing rugby union for Trinity Grammar as a schoolboy

Before Lachlan Ilias became the man to replace Rabbitohs legend Adam Reynolds after his controversial exit from the club, he was an Australian Schoolboys rugby union representative who played at renowned nursery, Trinity Grammar. 

He played there alongside Waratahs fly-half Tane Edmed and prop Tom Lambert, who now players in the UK, and playing at the scrumbase for the highly-touted Edmed is quite the feather in his cap. 

Becoming the first player from the rugby-mad school to play in the NRL, Ilias came to the Rabbitohs at the same time as Suaalii, in what was a big blow for rugby union in both NSW and Australia. 

‘Sport was always play for Lachie. As a kid he loved the concept of play. He was relatively shy but playful, and liked to laugh and find amusement in things,’ Lachlan White, a former Director of Rugby at Trinity, told the school’s newspaper.

‘But he also worked hard on his skills, on his goal kicking and one-on-one drills, and in the gym. He would do the extras, and that is clearly paying off for him now.’

And when Wallabies legend George Gregan – famous for his shoelace tackles – is publicly praising your work in defence, you know you are doing something right. 

8 – Jared Waerea-Hargreaves

NRL position: Prop. Union position: Blindside flanker/number eight. 

The mock-up of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in an All Blacks jersey shows what the Kiwi dreamed of as a kid - playing rugby union for New Zealand (digitally altered image)

The mock-up of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in an All Blacks jersey shows what the Kiwi dreamed of as a kid – playing rugby union for New Zealand (digitally altered image)

Before becoming one of the best props of the last decade, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves had never played rugby league. 

The Waratahs signed the now 34-year-old after he made a name for himself playing rugby union as a schoolboy in Queensland, and even represented Australia at under 19s level alongside future Wallabies Rob Simmons, James Hanson, Ben McCalman, Peter Betham and Pat McCabe.

But then legendary Manly recruitment manager Noel ‘Crusher’ Cleal came calling, and so began an incredible 14-year NRL journey for someone who had never touched a Steeden – not that he was crazy about it at the time. 

‘I was always told I was a rugby league player playing rugby union but until Manly gave me the opportunity I never watched it and I never fancied it,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2010. 

”I was brought up playing rugby union and watching the All Blacks. My dream as a young bloke was to do the haka for New Zealand – in anything. 

‘I was bought up in a Maori society in a bilingual household. It’s funny, I used to bag league and say I would never want to play it to all my mates and now I am playing in a grand final.’

It’s often hard for NRL forwards to make a transition to rugby union, but there’s no doubt Waerea-Hargraves would be sensational at Super Rugby level, with his tenacity perfectly suited to dominating at the breakdown at blindside flanker, or locking the back of the scrum at number eight.  

9 – Damien Cook

NRL position: Hooker. Union position: Scrum-half. 

Damien Cook has already worn the sky blue of NSW in State of Origin, but this mock-up shows he would not look out of place for the Waratahs at the base of the scrum (digitally altered image)

Damien Cook has already worn the sky blue of NSW in State of Origin, but this mock-up shows he would not look out of place for the Waratahs at the base of the scrum (digitally altered image)

One of the NRL’s best hookers since the great Cameron Smith retired, Damien Cook has become a hit with footy fans thanks to his trademark dashes out of dummy half, and tenacity in defence despite a 178cm, 88kg frame.

But it took a long while for the lightning-quick and crafty hooker to make it in the talent-rich rugby league region in Sydney’s Illawarra region, so he turned to union to try and make it. He did this alongside close mate Tyson Frizell, who has since also managed a sterling NRL and representative career after neither attracted much attention of scouts.

Cook didn’t even know the rules of union – which are often complex and technical to even lifelong players – but he made a good enough fist of it to earn Australian Schoolboys selection after missing out on an NRL spot. 

‘It just wasn’t my time then, and I missed out at those (NRL) trials to get to that next level so I thought I’d have a bit of fun and try out for rugby union.,’ he told the Daily Telegraph in 2018.

‘I was lucky to have Friz (Frizell) as my inside centre so he did a lot of the hard work and just tipped the ball onto me so he pretty much carried me through Schoolboys footy.

‘I actually didn’t know many of the rules either while I was playing. I was just lucky to have him there to teach me along the way.’

10 – Nelson Asofa-Solomona

NRL position: Prop. Union position: Lock. 

Nelson Asofa-Solomona has made a name for himself as a fiery prop at the Melbourne Storm after being plucked from rugby union in New Zealand as a 15-year-old

Nelson Asofa-Solomona has made a name for himself as a fiery prop at the Melbourne Storm after being plucked from rugby union in New Zealand as a 15-year-old

Fiery Storm prop Nelson Asofa-Solomona has made it clear he would definitely consider switching back to rugby union after Eddie Jones’ public declaration of his interest in dragging ex-players back to the 15-man code. 

The Kiwi was one of New Zealand’s most sought-after rugby talents, starring for Wellington College primarily at lock (and occasionally number eight) and producing some phenomenal highlights as he continued to grow into his now-200cm, 115kg frame. 

But the genius backroom staff at the Melbourne Storm spotted him at Wellington and shrewdly signed him up as a 15-year-old, with the man nicknamed ‘Big Nasty’ then going on to make 166 appearances and win two premierships.  

Earlier this year, after Jones signed on as Wallabies coach, Asofa-Solomona admitted he was ‘waiting for a phone call’, and was tempted to switch back to union in the twilight of his career. 

‘Coming from a rugby union background, I’ve always been enticed to go back to rugby at some stage,’ he told Fairfax.

‘I’m not too sure what I want to do, I change my mind every day. ‘It’s hard to say [if I would join the Wallabies]. I’d be silly not to consider all my options.’

He’s probably a touch too big for number eight these days, but his aggressiveness and power would be well suited at lock. 

11 – Angus Crichton

NRL position: Second-row. Union position: Inside-centre. 

Rooster star Angus Crichton has been one tipped by many to be the target of Eddie Jones' raids on NRL players. Mocked up in a Rebels jersey, could we see him at Super Rugby level in the not-too-distant future? (digitally altered image)

Rooster star Angus Crichton has been one tipped by many to be the target of Eddie Jones’ raids on NRL players. Mocked up in a Rebels jersey, could we see him at Super Rugby level in the not-too-distant future? (digitally altered image)

Angus Crichton would be wearing the sky blue of the Waratahs and green and gold of the Wallabies if NSW officials didn’t deliver him directly on a platter to rugby league. 

The star Roosters, NSW and Australia second-rower was one of rugby union’s most promising prospects, representing the Australian Schoolboys in consecutive years as an inside-centre from the prestigious Scots College.

He wanted to play rugby. He wanted to represent the Waratahs, and the Wallabies eventually. But he revealed he was left with no choice but to go to rugby league and take up an offer from the Rabbitohs after leaving school because NSW wanted to, inexplicably for such a powerfully-built youngster, hold him back. 

‘I sat there with my dad in a meeting with the Waratahs, I was an 18-year-old who had dreams of playing professional footy,’ Crichton said in 2017.

‘When they told me I wouldn’t be playing first grade, or Super Rugby, until I was 23, it was the polar opposite when I met Madge (Michael Maguire) who told me he’d play me when I was ready. That made it easy.’

Crichton played for the NSW Schoolboys (pictured) and Australian Schoolboys during a highly-rated junior career

Crichton played for the NSW Schoolboys (pictured) and Australian Schoolboys during a highly-rated junior career

For their part, Waratahs insisted later it was just that they couldn’t afford him – but that’s still looking like a pretty poor excuse over someone who has gone on win a premiership with the Roosters, nabbed a World Cup medal and been a crucial part of the Blues forward pack since 2018. 

‘We (Waratahs) thought extremely highly of him. We had obviously earmarked Angus from a long way back but at the same time we didn’t have the funds to offer him that rugby league could,’ one Waratahs official claimed.

Highlights from his time at Scots College show what a brilliant inside-centre he made then, and still would now. He’s a brilliant defender who is capable of staying strong at the breakdown, and a strong ballplayer who would bring teammates into the game. 

12 – Tyson Frizell

NRL position: Second-row. Union position: Blindside flanker. 

Tyson Frizell has been superlative for the NSW Blues over a long career at second-row - but he could've been wearing the sky blue of the Waratahs if he had've made a different choice as a junior

Tyson Frizell has been superlative for the NSW Blues over a long career at second-row – but he could’ve been wearing the sky blue of the Waratahs if he had’ve made a different choice as a junior

Playing at inside-centre alongside now Blues teammate Damien Cook, Tyson Frizell shined for the Australian Schoolboys rugby union side. It’s certainly in the blood, too – Frizell’s adoptive brother Shannon is a star forward for the Highlanders and All Blacks.

After growing up in Wollongong, south of Sydney, and playing both codes as a youngster, Frizell has gone on to have a brilliant career as a second-rower with the Sharks, Dragons and Knights, playing 221 games and being one of NSW’s most important and consistent forwards since making his Origin debut in 2016.

And that all came about when he was forced to choose between the Sharks and Waratahs – but he admits he would ‘never say never’ to going back to union. 

‘There was a decision to go to one of the Super Rugby teams or go to Cronulla,’ Frizell said in 2015 of the moment he decided to give NRL a crack. 

‘At the time I was overseas with the Australian Schoolboys (rugby union team) and I had to make a decision when I came back, so that was something I had to think about while I was over there.’

Frizell could line-up at inside centre, but blindside flanker would these days suit the rugged defender and edge runner a bit better – and you sure as hell wouldn’t want to run into him at the breakdown.

13 – Cameron Murray 

NRL position: Second-row/lock. Union position: Inside-centre. 

Cameron Murray captained the prestigious Newington College to a premiership as a schoolboy

Murray is reportedly the no. 1 target of Eddie Jones to pull on a Wallabies jersey (digitally altered image)

Cameron Murray continues to be thrown up as a name Wallabies coach Eddie Jones would be interested in coaxing back to union after his sterling junior career

Jones has made no secret of the fact he desperately wants to coax Rabbitohs skipper Cameron Murray back to rugby union. He said the accomplished second-rower-cum-lock is his favourite NRL player, and Murray’s contract expiring in 2025 is perfectly timed for the home World Cup in 2027. 

Murray captained one of NSW’s most prestigious schools – and famed rugby union nursey – Newington College, when they won the 2015 GPS Championship. He played at inside-centre, and even knocked back the chance to play rugby league for the NSW under 18s in favour of school footy. But he eventually chose the Rabbitohs over rugby union, and has gone on to become one of the best second-rower/locks in the game, as well as a respected leader.

Waratahs legend Stephen Hoiles said Rugby Australia should break the bank to go after someone he compared to one of the Wallabies’ best-ever centres. 

‘I would really go really hard for Cam Murray. You don’t compare too many people to this person. I’m going to mention, I’m glad he’s not sitting next to me, but I do see a lot of Tim Horan in Cameron Murray,’ he said on Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven.

‘Horan was generally one of our best ever and Cam Murray has all the attributes – not just his on-field and his toughness – but his ball-playing abilities, his pace, he’s got the right demeanour about him to go and be an excellent rugby player.

‘I really think if he’s going to do it, he’s got to get over soon because to be a genuine great of the game I think you’ve got to get yourself to a couple of World Cups, you’ve got to get a British and Irish Lions series in there.

‘He’s capable of doing all that. He could play sevens in the Olympics. He’s got the talent to do that. I’d love to see him there.’ 

For his part, Murray has certainly not ruled out making the move across to union after his contract expires.

‘I’m contracted for three years, that’s where my focus is, and beyond that, the time will come to think about my future,’ he told the Sydney Morning Herald in March. 

‘If the time comes and I’m off contract, and I’m negotiating my future, I’ll think about it then. I loved school rugby. I’ll still watch the big internationals, but I don’t want much sport at all.’ 

Playing inside centre, Murray has the perfect blend of toughness, silky ball skills and rugged defence to adapt quickly again to the 15-man game. 

BENCH

14 – Isaiah Papali’i

NRL position: Second-row. Union position: Openside flanker. 

Isaiah Papali'i (left) with former teammate Alex Hodgman after his debut for the All Blacks. The pair played together at Mount Albert Grammar School

Isaiah Papali’i (left) with former teammate Alex Hodgman after his debut for the All Blacks. The pair played together at Mount Albert Grammar School

The Dally M second-rower of the year and Parramatta’s Best and Fairest in 2021 was named New Zealand’s top schoolboy rugby player while attending Mount Albert Grammar School. 

He starred at flanker while leading his school to just their third national title in history, and even won two gold medals at the Oceania Weightlifting Championship – while also playing in the Warriors’ NRL junior program.

Papali’i, now at the Tigers, is a tireless defender, and would be well suited to trying to turn the ball over at the breakdown; but is also fast enough to pressure the halves in defence, but offer something with the ball as well.  

15 – Toby Rudolf

NRL position: Prop. Union position: F. 

Toby Rudolf (right) with Roosters star Angus Crichton, when the pair were rugby union teammates at Scots College

Toby Rudolf (right) with Roosters star Angus Crichton, when the pair were rugby union teammates at Scots College

Cult hero Toby Rudolf is keen to play rugby union again – that’s a fact. The Sharks prop played alongside Crichton at Scots, captaining the side to the GPS premiership in 2014.

The 190cm, 106kg forward played at prop as a junior, but won’t be big enough for that at the highest level these days. He would be more at home at blindside flanker and certainly has the tool box to make that happen.

Now approaching his twilight years in footy at 27, Rudolf said he was definitely keen if Jones was interested in him making a move. 

‘Honestly, yeah, I think I would (return to rugby union),’ he said on The Bye Round podcast with James Graham in March.

‘Just because, as you know, this game is very hard on the body. You can play league until you’re 32 or 33. Obviously Paul Gallen was 38, but he is a freak of nature.

‘Union is much easier on the body, you can play for longer, have a longer career, travel the world as well which is one thing I’m passionate about doing.

‘So yeah, I’d entertain it for sure. It wouldn’t be off the cards.’

16 – Adam Doueihi

NRL position: Five-eighth, fullback. Union position: Fly-half, Outside-centre. 

Before becoming a star at NRL level with the Rabbitohs and Tigers, Adam Doueihi was an Australian Schoolboys representative in rugby union

Before becoming a star at NRL level with the Rabbitohs and Tigers, Adam Doueihi was an Australian Schoolboys representative in rugby union

Tigers star Adam Doueihi can play any position in the backline – and you can imagine the same being true in union, though perhaps not inside-centre. With a raking kick and brilliant long passing game, Doueihi made waves as a Australian Schoolboys representative in rugby union, before switching his focus to league after signing with the Rabbitohs. 

There’s rugby union royalty in his family too – Doueihi is a cousin of star coach Michael Cheika, though he has admitted it was only ever league he truly loved playing. 

But for argument’s sake, he could certainly play in the 15-man code again if he wanted to, with his silky skills well suited to outside-centre or fly-half.

He played at school alongside star Waratahs and Wallabies winger Mark Nawaqanitawase, and their coach said in 2020 that they stood out for their attitude and intensity to getting better.

‘They were a handy pair, but it was their mindsets that made them really good. You could see how much both of them wanted to play rugby, really give it a crack,’ St Patricks coach Anthony Calavassy told the Sydney Morning Herald. 

17 – Bailey Simonssen

NRL position: Wing. Union position: Wing. 

On the outside of Cam Murray at Newington was current Eels winger Bailey Simonssen, who has a long history in union and would seamlessly be able to transition back to the 15-man game.

Highlights of his school days showcase his brilliant sidestep, strength and speed on a wing, and he even played Sevens rugby for New Zealand before starting off his promising league career with the Raiders in 2019. 

The son of ex-All Black Paul, Simonssen was tipped for grand things even in primary school days, such was his aptitude for the code – and should he ever need a trade to fall back on, it’s not hard to see him dominating at Super Rugby level from a wing. 

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source: dailymail.co.uk