Rugby league star Laurie Daley has hinted that Parramatta Eels star Will Penisini is as good as Sydney Roosters young gun Joseph Suaalii.
Suaalii, 17, is arguably the hottest schoolboy perspective in NRL history. He had previously been at the center of a bitter battle between rugby union and the league, with several clubs from the NRL and Rugby Australia are scrambling to obtain the signing of the young star before South Sydney releases him to their great rival.
It is understood that Suaalii, who turns 18 in September, could be available from round one for roosters, with the club asking the NRL to allow the teenage sensation to hit the pitch early despite being a minor.
But as fans await Suaalii’s arrival in freshman football, the Eels will seek to free their own teenage monster, with Penisini supposedly knocking on the door of his NRL debut.
The 18-year-old King’s School prodigy, who happens to be a good friend of Suaalii, scored a try last week in the Eels’ practice match against St George Illawarra.
Penisini lined up at center last week, which could potentially be his permanent place on the track as the club seek to fill the spot left by Michael Jennings, who was dismissed from his post last year due to a positive doping test.
Daley, a Canberra Raiders legend and former Dally M medal winner, believes Penisini is not “far” from Suaalii and says he expects young Eels pistol to be at the same level as here the end of the season.
“I think he was as good as Suaalii,” Daley said on The Big Sports Breakfast.
“Obviously everyone gives Suaalii a very high rating and he is something very special, but this kid is not far from him.
“But whether he’s ready to go right away or not – I don’t think he will be. But by the end of the season he might be.”
“But with (Michael) Oldfield, Tom Opacic, Penisini and Waqa Blake, you would think they would be the centers they should choose from.”
And it’s not just Daley who is a huge Penisini fan, with Eels captain Clint Gutherson claiming his young teammate has huge potential.
“Will is a great kid, he wants to learn and he’s lucky to have great players to help him,” Gutherson told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“He’s from King’s, which is a good rugby school, but he chose to stay with us. He’s a big boy – he’s not small for 18 – and the sky is the limit for him. never know when the right time is to debut a kid. I’m sure if his time comes this year he’ll take it with both hands. “
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