Australia’s first glimpse at teen footy freak
It's finally here.
The teenage footy freak, being hyped up as a once-in-a-generation talent, will be on show for everyone to see today as he steps out for the Roosters' feeder team in a trial match against the Canberra Raiders' reserve grade side.
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Having signed with the tri-colours after abandoning Souths - who he played juniors for and signed a contract with before deciding he would take his talents elsewhere ahead of his arrival in the NRL - Suaalii with wear North Sydney Bears colours this afternoon in a match that will be beamed into people's living rooms.
Kayo Sports is streaming the clash, scheduled for a 2pm AEDT start, live and exclusively and there will no doubt be plenty of footy fans tuning in to see what all the fuss is about when it comes to one of the most talented young guns rugby league has seen in years.
Suaalii is only 17-years-old but has already been likened to Greg Inglis, such is his size, speed and strength.
The schoolboy rugby sensation - who last year officially chose league over the 15-man code, at least for now - impressed everyone while training with the Rabbitohs' first grade squad last pre-season and it has long been a question of when, not if, he would graduate to the NRL.
Regulations stipulate a player must be 18 before making their first grade debut, but there is an ongoing push to blood Suaalii into the top tier before that occasion rolls around in August, such is his talent.
Former Bunnies enforcer Sam Burgess has raved about Suaalii previously, saying he already carries himself like a man on the field, while ex-NSW five-eighth Braith Anasta is also expecting big things.
"Sam Burgess said to me about a year ago that this kid is a superstar," Anasta told foxsports.com.au earlier this month.
"He said, 'He is tough and there are kids we know at training who get involved with the first graders and you can see they are not quite ready for the collision'.
"But Sam was just raving about him. From that point of view and hearing people at Souths raving about him back then there is huge wraps on him and huge expectations and I think he will deliver."
Normally a fullback, the Roosters plan to ease Suaalii into things. He's listed to play in the centres for the Bears today and is capable of performing pretty much anywhere in the backline, including five-eighth.
A monster at 196cm, the teenager already matches up physically with giant Roosters winger Daniel Tupou, which is no mean feat. Not even legally allowed to drink yet, Suaalii will make grown men 10 years his senior look small.
While there are no doubts about his physical gifts, the lingering question over Suaalii is how he will cope with the pressure of expectation put - somewhat unfairly, you'd have to say - on the shoulders of someone so young who hasn't even played first grade yet.
Insiders suggest the humble kid from Sydney will be fine, but only time will tell.
Originally published as Australia's first glimpse at teen footy freak