The Sharks have signed former NSW Under-18’s rep Luke Metcalf as the fifth of their six Development players for the 2021 season.
A member of the Sharks victorious Matthews Cup team of 2015, Metcalf also played SG Ball and Under-20’s for the Cronulla club, before making the move to the Manly Sea Eagles, where his development and progression was somewhat hampered due to injury.
After making an impression at the 2020 NRL Nines with the Sea Eagles, where he was named in the Nines Team of the Tournament, Metcalf’s opportunities were then limited last season due to the COVID situation and no second-tier competition.
He represented NSW Under-18’s Origin against Queensland in 2017, scoring three tries and claiming man of the match honours in a Blues victory.
Metcalf played through the junior grades as a half-five eighth, but also more recently transitioned into a fullback, with his blinding speed a feature of his game.
Despite being on a development contract in 2021, Metcalf is set to challenge Will Kennedy for the Sharks fullback spot in 2021 and will upgrade to the NRL Top-30 squad in 2022.
The 21-year-old, who originally hails from Coffs Harbour, joins returning players Jackson Ferris and Daniel Vasquez, along with local junior Jonaiah Lualua and Brisbane recruit Jack Martin on the Sharks 2021 Development player list.
Development list players train alongside the top-30 NRL squad throughout the season.
2021 Sharks Development List players
A serious ACL injury derailed Metcalf’s progress while at the Sea Eagles, however he showed he’d lost none of his explosive speed with a standout performance representing Manly at the 2020 NRL Nines tournament in Perth, scoring three tries in three matches. A half-back through the grades, Metcalf also shapes as a fullback option after being introduced to the position more recently, with the former NSW Under-18s rep one to watch in 2021.
A strong running outside back, as an 18-year-old Lualua played a role in the Sharks premiership-winning Jersey Flegg season of 2018 before enduring an injury-interrupted 2019 then being forced to sit out much of last year due to the COVID situation. Having played much of his junior football with the local Aquinas Colts Club, still just 20 years of age, Lualua has the ability to play fullback or wing and has the size, speed and athleticism to forge a successful NRL career.
A front rower from the Ipswich Jets, Martin played an NRL trial with the Broncos as an 18-year-old last year before, like many, his opportunities where limited due to the impacts of COVID and the cancellation of the Queensland Cup competition. Has represented Queensland at under-18 Origin level, starting at prop in a team which was successful in beating NSW in their 2019 clash and comes to the Sharks as a highly rated prospect.
The New Zealand-born Ferris was introduced to the club at a development coaching camp before signing with the Sharks and progressing through the grades in the under-18’s and under-20’s. He earned a Development contract in 2020 and also an NRL debut while in 2019 was one of the stars of the Newtown Jets dual premiership success, scoring the match-winning try in the Canterbury Cup Grand Final. Capable of playing centre or wing, Ferris impressed in his one and only top-grade outing, scoring a smart try against the Broncos before a knee injury late in that debut game saw him miss the remainder of the season.
A local junior from the St Josephs and Yarrawarrah clubs, Vasquez made his NRL debut for the Sharks in their first regular season game against the Raiders. Previous to last year’s COVID-impacted NRL season where his opportunities were limited, Vasquez had played a leading role in the Newtown Jets premiership success in 2019 and was a standout when coming through the Sharks junior academy system, winning the man of the match award in