The Cronulla Sharks have reportedly signed junior schoolboy rugby star Jangala Bennet, luring the promising talent across codes with a two-year contract.
Bennet’s feats at Nudgee College will likely become folklore with some of the most heart-stopping moments in GPS rugby history.
A last-second, game-winning try assist from past halfway against traditional rivals Terrace last year secured an all-time classic win for the 1st XV, before another game-winning try in this year’s de-facto Grand Final between Nudgee College and The Southport School sealed the GPS Premiership.
The fleet-footed fullback has been likened by some to NRL stars Jonathan Thurston and Kalyn Ponga, who also made a name for himself in the same schoolboy rugby competition.
The signing is a blow for Australian Rugby, with game-breaking talent like Bennet few and far between.
At 18-years-old, he has years of physical development ahead of him and in the right system could flourish into one of the game’s most exciting players.
New Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle stated in May on Fox Sports’ Kick & Chase that the code is working on a plan to prevent rival codes from signing rugby talent so easily, in order to fight rugby league’s “organised plan to steal rugby talent.”
“Something I’m particularly passionate about, having understood from my previous role how there might be an organised plan to steal rugby talent, we need to make sure we lock it up and capture it,” Castle said.
“We need to ensure that we back ourselves to secure that talent to contract it and grow and develop it.
“Call it a junior Wallabies scholarship, call it an early contracting thing, that’s what we’re looking to try and implement.
“We are looking to see if it’s something we can implement next year.”
Castle’s plan is one-year too late to keep Bennet but hopefully is in play sooner than later to start competing in the arms race for talent.
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