Class of 2020: The debutants

· Super Rugby - AU
by Waratahs Media

Across Super Rugby, 2020 there has seen a record number of NSW Waratahs debutants – with 19 players donning our famous sly blue for the first time.

 

Of those 19 players, only three had featured in Super Rugby previously in Jack Maddocks, Robbie Abel and Tetera Faulkner.

 

This leaves us with 16 players who made their Super Rugby debut over the course of a very unconventional 2020 season, an incredible stat which showcases the wealth of talent at the disposal of Rob Penney and his staff for 2021 and beyond.

 

Let’s take a look at our Class of 2020:

 

#1670 Will Harrison

One of several debutants to make the trip to Nelson in February to take on the Crusaders. It was a promising debut for the young playmaker, who showed he was not out of place at Super Rugby level. Fast froward eight months – and two iterations of provincial rugby – and Harrison has cracked 100 points and earned himself Wallaby selection for the 2020 Test season.

Debut v Crusaders (Trafalgar Park)

Appearances: 14

Points: 126

Highlights: Youngest ever player to debut at flyhalf, a debut try against the Rebels in Round 9 and finishing Super Rugby AU’s top point-scorer.

 

#1671 Mark Nawaqanitawase

Caused a stir of excitement with his speed, aerial ability and finishing as he arrived on the Super Rugby scene. Nawaqanitawase further added to his try-scoring tally over Super Rugby – giving Rob Penney plenty of options on the edges.

Debut v Crusaders (Trafalgar Park)

Appearances: 8

Tries: 4

Highlights: A double on debut against the Crusaders.

Angus Bell has had an impressive start to his Super Rugby career. Photo: Getty Images

#1672 Angus Bell

Graduating from the Junior Wallabies class of 2019 to the Waratahs of 2020, Bell lived up to the hype that saw him become the youngest forward to debut for NSW in Super Rugby history (19y 3m 28d). A niggling back injury slowed him down mid-campaign, but that didn’t stop Bell notching 12 appearances in sky blue.

Debut v Crusaders (Trafalgar Park)

Appearances: 12

Tries: 2

Highlights: A try against the Lions at Bankwest Stadium.

 

#1674 Carlo Tizzano

Arriving from across the Nullarbor in pre-season, Tizzano turned heads on the training field with his competitive nature and tenacity. There may have been only one appearance in 2020, but with Michael Hooper abroad for the start of next year, opportunity presents for the young backrower.

Debut v Crusaders (Trafalgar Park)

Appearances: 1

 

#1675 Tepai Moeroa

Arriving from Rugby League in pre-season, Moeroa has used 2020 to transition back to the game he excelled at as a schoolboy, culminating in a huge last-start performance for the Waratahs against the Rebels in Super Rugby AU – with his dominance at the collision both with and without the ball on display.

Debut v Blues (McDonald Jones Stadium)

Appearances: 2

 

#1676 James Ramm

Coming off the back of an injury-ravaged 2019, Ramm has finished amongst some of the competition’s best outside backs in a number of key Super Rugby AU stat lines. He started 2020 as an unknown quantity at provincial level and finishes a member of Dave Rennie’s inaugural Wallaby squad.

Debut v Lions (Bankwest Stadium)

Appearances: 11

Tries: 2

Highlights: A try on debut against the Lions.

James Ramm has signed a two-year deal with the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images

#1678 Michael McDonald

Deputising for Mitch Short in the absence of Jake Gordon, and whilst not acquiring extensive minutes has had the opportunity to learn from two experienced number 9s across the season. Another Junior Wallabies graduate from the year prior, McDonald will have plenty of opportunity to work alongside the likes of Harrison, Donaldson, Walton and co. ahead of 2021.

Debut v Chiefs (WIN Stadium)

Appearances: 3

 

#1679 Pat Tafa

A couple of appearances for Tafa during the season have showcased the young talent New South Wales possess in the pack. It was difficult to break in with the experience in front of him, but the Shoreman will enjoy some more game time in club rugby to further his development.

Debut v Chiefs (WIN Stadium)

Appearances: 2

 

#1680 Will Harris

Harris was held back longer than some may have expected for a debut, with some injury issues slowing him down mid-season. The rangy backrower had three very promising appearances after the COVID break before an ankle injury curtailed his campaign.

Debut v Queensland (Suncorp Stadium)

Appearances: 3

 

#1681 Joey Walton

Appearing in every Super Rugby AU fixture for the Waratahs, Walton has made himself at home in the midfield. Operating as part of several centre pairings throughout the season, Walton has shown his ability to match it at Super Rugby level.

Debut v Queensland (Suncorp Stadium)

Appearances: 8

Tries: 1

 

#1682 Tom Horton

A revelation in the front row for Rob Penney, Horton has gone from Super Rugby debutant to Wallaby squad member in the space of a few months. Showing great accuracy at the lineout, Horton was also devastating with his ball running in wide channels – scoring two tries.

Debut v Queensland (Suncorp Stadium)

Appearances: 8

Tries: 2

Highlights: Try in run-on debut v Brumbies.

Tom Horton scored a try for the Waratahs. Photo: Getty Images

#1683 Tiaan Tauakipulu

Part of a second wave of youngsters to get a taste of professional rugby under Rob Penney. At only 18 years of age, Tauakipulu has plenty of growing and learning to do in the Waratahs environment alongside an experienced selection of front rowers. He’ll have enjoyed his brief experience at the top level as he returns to club rugby over the break.

Debut v Queensland (Suncorp Stadium)

Appearances: 2

 

#1684 Ben Donaldson

Donaldson got his opportunity in Super Rugby AU and has been a regular feature in Rob Penney’s squad, with his ability to cover several positions from the bench. A taste of footy at the top level will have Donaldson primed for a big pre-season ahead of 2021.

Debut v Western Force (Sydney Cricket Ground)

Appearances: 6

 

#1685 Joe Cotton

It was just the one appearance for Cotton in sky blue this year, as he gets some game time in club rugby ahead of the 2021 pre-season. The young hooker was thrown a curve ball on debut, unexpectedly entering play in the first half as Tom Horton went for a HIA – where he showed he was not out of place on the big stage.

Debut v Melbourne Rebels (Sydney Cricket Ground)

Appearances: 1

 

#1686 Nick Malouf

Arriving at the Waratahs during the COVID-19 break and training with the group throughout, the Aussie Sevens outside back got his opportunity late in the Super Rugby AU season.

Debut v Brumbies (GIO Stadium)

Appearances: 1

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