Ranking the five best Super League academies

HAVING a fruitful academy is key for any Super League side.

The ability to call on younger players to either fill a gap or become a mainstay in a side is imperative in a gruelling Super League season.

Over the years, there have been some incredible talents to have come through respective academies including the likes of Paul Sculthorpe, Rob Burrow and Gareth Ellis.

Here are five of the best Super League academies ranked.

5. Huddersfield Giants

Huddersfield Giants’ academy has been steadily building in the past decade. The likes of Oliver Russell, Oliver Wilson (though he did start his career with the Bradford Bulls), Matty English, Will Pryce, Sam Hewitt, Louis and Innes Senior have all progressed to become first-team players for Huddersfield. Head coach Ian Watson has been eager to bring in more of the younger crop of players and there is certainly excitement around the John Smith’s Stadium for more names to emerge in the near future. Those next in line such as Fenton Rogers, Aidan McGowan, George Roby and Kieran Rush have all impressed at a lower level.

4. Catalans Dragons

When Catalans Dragons first entered Super League in the mid-2000s, the dream was to create a team centred around French players. Now, that dream is being realised with Arthur Mourgue, Paul Seguier, Julian Bousquet, Arthur Romano, Cesar Rouge, Benjamin Garcia, Alrix Da Costa and Fouad Yaha just some of those to have made the transition through to the Catalans first-team, whilst the next crop of youngsters have been touted as some of the best to have come through the system. Names such as Loan Castano, Leo Laurent, Ugo Tison and Tanguy Zenon are being backed to be vital for Catalans in years to come.

3. Leeds Rhinos

Leeds Rhinos have always been one of the clubs to look out for in terms of blooding young players. In recent years, Harry Newman, Mikolaj Oledzki, Ash Handley, Corey Johnson and Cameron Smith have all made their mark in the Rhinos’ first-team, but the next crop of youngsters are particularly exciting. Alfie Edgell, Tom Nicholson-Watton and Max Simpson are the next ones to keep an eye on with head coach Rohan Smith keen to emphasise the future at Headingley. The likes of Morgan Gannon and Jack Sinfield will want to kick on in 2024, too.

2. Wigan Warriors

Narrowly missing out on top spot, Wigan Warriors have always prided themselves on bringing through talented youngsters. Harry Smith, Morgan Smithies, Brad O’Neill, Liam Byrne and Kai Pearce-Paul have been the greatest success stories – though the latter did begin his career with the London Broncos – but the likes of James McDonnell, Sam Halsall, Matty Nicholson, Jack Bibby have all left the DW Stadium after coming through the ranks. Junior Nsemba and Harvie Hill appear to be the next ones to poke their nose through into the first-team with the Warriors primed to continue their success.

1. St Helens

There won’t be many arguments to have against St Helens being placed in first. The academy champions of 2023, the next crop of youngsters are ready to take the top flight by storm. But, looking back over recent years, some of Saints’ best players have been their own. From Jack Welsby to Morgan Knowles, from Matty Lees to Lewis Dodd, the conveyor belt of youth is strong and willing at the Totally Wicked Stadium. George Delaney proved that in abundance with an excellent breakout year in 2023, whilst the likes of Dayon Sambou, Jake Burns, McKenzie Buckley and Ben Lane will be hoping for the same in 2024.

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