Blaize of glory: teen Talagi shows his NRL promise

Scott Bailey |

Blaize Talagi, grabbed by Will Penisini after scoring against the Broncos, may be a man in demand.
Blaize Talagi, grabbed by Will Penisini after scoring against the Broncos, may be a man in demand.

It took 80 minutes at fullback for Blaize Talagi to show why there could well be interest for him on the NRL’s open market.

The headline story of the week at Parramatta, the Eels teenager showed glimpses of his potential in his first game playing fullback in the NRL on Friday night.

One of the Eels’ best in their 30-14 loss to Brisbane, Talagi scored a first-half try and crossed for another late before it was called back for obstruction.

It wasn’t all perfect for the 19-year-old at CommBank Stadium.

There was a dropped ball close to the line late in the match, and he made a meal of a Josh Rogers bomb before being saved by the bunker and an offside Bronco.

But still, there was enough to ensure he will hold on to Parramatta’s No.1 jersey for another week with regular fullback Clint Gutherson sidelined for a month with a knee injury.

It was Talagi who put Parramatta in the field position for their first try, when he burst downfield after leaping high to take an Ezra Mam bomb.

Moments later, he stepped back past Mam to score, showing his footwork and acceleration as he cut back in field to score,

The fullback pulled off a last-man tackle to stop a hard-running Selwyn Cobbo early in the match, and while he broke the line again late he threw an intercept straight to the Broncos.

“There was a heap of good things he did and then he did a couple of things where he’d probably like his time over again,” Eels coach Brad Arthur said. 

“But the good thing about it is he won’t die wondering. He showed when he got the ball he can be hard to handle. 

“And I thought he was was pretty good defensively too. 

“I thought he might struggle a bit on the tryline but he actually got our numbers okay and handled that pretty well. And he showed that physically.”

Talagi does hold an Eels contract until the end of next year, but is reported to have opted against activating it.

He has played two games at five-eighth this year in his rookie season to go with one on the centre and another off the bench.

With their spine steady and Zac Lomax lured to the club as a centre next year, finding a regular spot in the short-term is a challenge for the Eels.

But Arthur is confident Talagi wants to stay at the NRL club.

“All the indications from us are that he is the future of the club,” Arthur said this week.

“The only question that I’ve asked him is does he want to be at the club. He told me he does. That’s half the battle.”