TOP FIVE OF 2016: Young Super League stars who made their mark

Greg Minikin (Castleford Tigers)

Minikin Castleford

The former Batley back certainly took to Super League like a duck to water in 2016. He ended up making 16 appearances in the league for Daryl Powell’s side as injuries hit the Tigers hard throughout last season – and Minikin certainly didn’t let anyone down. Furthermore, with Denny Solomona leaving for rugby union, Minikin is likely to get more chances to show he’s a top-class player in 2017.

Tom Johnstone (Wakefield Trinity)

Johnstone Wakefield

20 tries from 25 appearances in all competitions; 2016 wasn’t a bad year for Tom Johnstone overall. The homegrown winger has quickly established himself as one of the club’s most important players in just a matter of months – and if he continues the form of 2016 into next year, expect Johnstone to become more and more of a hot commodity for Trinity and Chris Chester.

Sam Powell (Wigan Warriors)

Powell Wigan

At the start of 2016, Sam Powell may have sensed he would have had a real challenge on his hands to get into the Wigan team: but one man’s misfortune proved to be the glimmer of opportunity Powell needed to make his mark. He played in every single Super League game for the champions last season, proving to be a more than able deputy for McIlorum at hooker – and becoming a pivotal part of the success of Shaun Wane’s side.

Matt Whitley (Widnes Vikings)


2016 proved to be another year of progression for Widnes on the field as they solidified their position in the top eight of Super League with weeks to spare; and Matt Whitley was one of several Vikings players who caught the eye all season long. He made 26 appearances in the league last season, scoring six tries in the process, and becoming one of the key components of Denis Betts’ side. Expect 2017 to be no different.

Romain Navarrete (Catalans Dragons)

He may have only made 11 appearances – all from the bench – but it was impossible to miss Romain Navarrete in a Catalans shirt towards the end of last season. The towering prop instantly looked at home as a Super League player, and subsequently earned a big move to Wigan Warriors alongside team-mate Morgan Escare in the process. Will the move across the Channel prove to be the next big step for the big prop?