A 15-year-old schoolboy rugby star has been touted as the ‘next Israel Folau’ as Rugby Australia move to secure more young talent.
King’s School fullback Joseph Suaalii shone in this year’s GPS competition and is already the same height as Folau.
Suaalii, a year nine student, grew up playing rugby league and dabbled in rugby, AFL, basketball and athletics by the age of 11.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Rugby Australia believe Suaalii has the chance to break James O’Connor’s record as the youngest ever Wallabies debutant at 18.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika met with Suaalii earlier this year and introduced him to his idol Folau. According to SMH a source told The Cauliflower that Suaalii ‘shook like a leaf’ upon meeting the cross-code star.
Suaalii’s pathway to the national side – and perhaps Folau’s Wallaby No.15 jumper one day – is now clearer after the Super Rugby academy system underwent an overhaul.
As opposed to focusing on school leavers, players will now enter the first academy stage as young as 15 as they progress towards playing in the newly formed Under-19 Rugby Championship.
Suaalii is just one of the schoolboy talents Rugby Australia is keeping tabs on. Year 12 students Will Harris (Scots) and Angus Bell (Newington) have all been retained in rugby despite big interest from NRL clubs. The pair were among RA and the Waratahs’ top two schoolboy targets this year.
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