Teen Sydney Roosters sensation Joseph Suaalii again stamped himself as one of the brightest young talents in rugby league as the Tricolours surged to a 44-16 victory over the Canberra Raiders on the Central Coast.
The 17-year-old shone bright in his second NRL match, crossing for his first try in the top flight and moving gracefully to set up another.
Suaalii bagged his first try on the back of a Lachlan Lam high ball, pouncing on the footy and diving over when Canberra fullback Caleb Aekins failed to defuse the bomb.
Then in the 70th minute, the former rugby union gun received the ball on the right edge 30 metres out, fended off Sebastian Kris as he swept past him, drew Ryan Sutton and linked with Sitili Tupouniua on his inside, who flew over for a try.
Suaalii combined his try and try assist with 143 metres, four tackle busts and 13 tackles, as the Roosters responded to last week’s upset loss at the hands of the Brisbane Broncos in convincing style.
Suaalii’s try saw him become the first 17-year-old NRL try-scorer since Brisbane’s Dale Copley in 2009.
The King’s School student said coach Trent Robinson and several teammates had made the transition to first grade easy.
NRL Highlights: The Roosters roll the Raiders in 60 point blowout – Round 12
“Trent has been a big help to me. He keeps it simple, tells me to play footy,” Suaalii said on Fox League’s post-match coverage.
“And it’s a big help when you’ve got Joey Manu and Sitili Tupouniua on the inside of you and Matt Ikuvalu. It’s pretty simple.
“The pre-season helped me a lot and the boys, like I said before, with Joey Manu, Teddy (James Tedesco) out the back, Daniel Tupou on the other wing – they just help me big time and it makes my job easy.”
Former six-Test Kangaroo Greg Alexander loved what he saw in Suaalii’s first NRL four-pointer.
“There will be many more but this is his first – and he does it spectacularly,” Alexander said.
Suaalii’s emergence over the last fortnight has made the hot race for this year’s NRL rookie of the year gong even hotter.
Roosters halfback Sam Walker has been brilliant, New Zealand Warriors recruit Reece Walsh is giving Broncos fans nightmares, Penrith Panthers winger Charlie Staines is firing and Wests Tigers fullback Daine Laurie is right in the mix, too.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!