Three Kiwis in U-20 Team of the Year

(Main photo: Joseph Manu fights for a ball on first-grade debut v the Warriors. Credit:

New Zealand products Kalyn Ponga, Brandon Smith and Joseph Manu are among the players honoured in the 2016 Holden Cup Team of the Year.

The team was announced at Monday’s 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series Launch at Allianz Stadium.

NRL Head of Football Brian Canavan said 90 percent of players who made the Holden Cup Team of the Year went on to play in the NRL.

“It’s become clear that the Holden Cup Team of the Year is a virtual preview of the next batch of NRL talent,” Mr Canavan said.

“In fact a number of this year’s team have already made their mark in the NRL.

“But just as important as their NRL statistics, I am also pleased to see the education and training that these players are undertaking.

“Last year’s Team of the Year included Tom Trjbojevic, Ashley Taylor, Te Maire Martin and Latrell Mitchell.

“I’m looking forward to see what this next group of players do in the NRL.”

This year’s team joins an honour roll that includes some of the NRL’s most talented stars, including Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Valentine Holmes, Daly-Cherry Evans, Ben Barba, Kieran Foran, Marika Koroibete, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Ben Matulino, Dane Gagai, Jesse Bromwich, Jason Taumololo, Shaun Fensom, Tariq Sims, Gareth Widdop, Ben Hunt, Trent Merrin, David Klemmer, Dylan Napa, James Segeyaro, Konrad Hurrell, Luke Brooks and Bryce Cartwright.

The 2016 Holden Cup Team of the Year is:

Position Player Club Studying
Fullback Kalyn Ponga Cowboys Bachelor of Education, JCU
Wing Gideon Gela-Mosby Cowboys Cert IV in Youth Work + Work
Centre Robert Jennings Panthers Cert III: Career Orientated Participation
Centre Nick Cotric Raiders HSC Erindale College
Wing Joseph Manu Roosters Cert III: Career Orientated Participation
Five-eighth Tyrone May Panthers Diploma: Social Science, Counselling + Teacher’s Aide
Halfback Troy Dargan Eels Bachelor Business & Property Management, WSU
Prop Alex Twal Eels Bachelor Of Business & Commerce
Hooker Brandon Smith Cowboys Building/Construction Labourer
Prop Oliver Clark Panthers Bachelor of Physiotherapy, ACU
Second-Row Luciano Leilua Dragons Construction/Scaffolding Labourer
Second-Row Jaydn Su’A Broncos Bachelor of Secondary Education, QUT
Lock Nat Butcher Roosters Diploma of Financial Planning
Interchange Jayden Brailey Sharks Bachelor of Exercise & Sports Science, ACU
Interchange Matthew Dufty Dragons Cert III Community Recreation
Interchange Tyrell Fuimaono Eels Bachelor Business & Commerce, WSU
Interchange Dylan Edwards Panthers Bachelor of Health and Science
Coach Cameron Ciraldo Panthers

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