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Rabbitohs sign and extend contracts on eight up-and-coming stars

The South Sydney Rabbitohs are pleased to announce the signing and extension of contracts for eight up-and-coming stars including Queensland U19s State of Origin player Jye Gray (2023-24), Haizyn Mellars (2023-25), Liam Le Blanc (2023-24) and TJ Herring (2023-24), as well as South Sydney juniors Tyrone Munro (2023-25), Aaron Macey (2023-24), Daniel Wright (2023-25) and Mateus Heslin (2023-25).

In addition, seven of these eight players will feature at the Australian Schoolboys Carnival to be played in Redcliffe between 2-8 July as part of a South Sydney contingent numbering 18 players out of the 160 players competing at the tournament.

Rabbitohs sign and extend contracts on eight up-and-coming stars

Munro, 17, is a South Sydney junior from the Botany Rams club, who came to the Rabbitohs’ open trial for their Harold Matthews Cup team in early 2021 and impressed so much that he earned a position in the under 17s squad that season, being named the player of the year at the end of the competition. He was upgraded to be part of the Club’s Black Rabbits Elite Player Development (EPD) program in 2022, played the SG Ball Cup season in the first half of the year, and is currently playing in the under 21s Jersey Flegg team at just 17 years of age. He won the player of the carnival at the NSW Combined High Schools (CHS) tournament in 2022 and will represent NSW CHS at the national championships. A relation to South Sydney junior Josh Addo-Carr, Tyrone is very fast and athletic, able to make things happen out of nothing. He uses his great acceleration to his advantage and is very strong competing for the ball in the air. Tyrone will be at the Rabbitohs for at least the next three years with a development contract in 2023 before moving up to the Club’s top 30 players in 2024 and 2025.

Gray, 18, is from the Gold Coast and has played at the junior elite levels in both Rugby League and rugby union where he has represented the Southport School 1st XV. He has been part of the Brisbane Broncos EPD squad since the age of 15 and played under 19s State of Origin for Queensland this week as an 18-year-old. He was awarded the QRL’s Mal Meninga Cup five-eighth of the year award in 2022. Strong, fast and skillful, Jye has the ability to be dangerous as a ball runner and has great game awareness to ball-play as well. He will be studying a business degree at university next year. He has been signed on a development contract in 2023 with a club option on a top 30 contract for 2024.

Mellars, 18, is the son of former NRL player Vince Mellars and former New Zealand Olympian and national basketball representative Charmian Mellars. A very talented basketballer himself, Haizyn converted to Rugby League in 2020 and was an inaugural member of the Rabbitohs South-East Queensland EPD program in the same year, as a product of Marsden State High School. Haizyn was selected in the 2022 Queensland Emerging Origin squad and represented the Queensland under 18s Schoolboys this year. Built in a similar mould to Campbell Graham, he is a very tall, athletic player with great skills and a strong leap. He competes strongly for the ball in the air and does the tough work out of the back field. Haizyn will also be looking to study at university in his first year in Sydney in 2023. He will train with the NRL side in the 2023 pre-season before progressing to a development contract in 2024 and a top 30 position in 2025.

Le Blanc, 17, is a middle forward who is another graduate from the Rabbitohs South-East Queensland EPD program. He has also excelled in both rugby codes, playing his Rugby League with Norths Devils in Brisbane and he is in his third season of 1st XV rugby union at Nudgee College in 2022. Liam is also part of the Queensland Emerging Origin squad and the Queensland under 18s Schoolboys in 2022. He has a similar style of play to Jai Arrow, having the ability to play up front as well as being comfortable in a ball-playing lock role. He is a high work rate player with a strong offload. He too will look to study at university in 2023. He is contracted to take part in the NRL pre-season in 2023 before moving onto a development contract in 2024.

Macey, 17, is a South Sydney junior also from the Botany Rams club who is also South Sydney High School’s sports captain this year. He captained the South Sydney Harold Matthews Cup side in 2021, a season in which he won the Club’s best back award. A centre or fullback with a great work ethic, Aaron is not afraid to do the tough work in attack and is a very solid defensive player. He has shown his versatility this year playing in multiple positions for the under 19s SG Ball Cup team whilst being part of the Black Rabbits EPD program. He is another young player looking to further his education at university next year. Aaron will train with the NRL side in the 2023 preseason and will be part of the Black Rabbits EPD program in both 2023 and 2024.

Wright, 17, is another local junior from the Botany Rams club, who co-captained the Rabbitohs Harold Matthews squad in 2022. His South Sydney pedigree is strong with his uncle, Ken Wright, having represented South Sydney between 1982-83, playing 36 first grade games. Another elite dual code player, Daniel is a member of the Newington 1st XV rugby union team this year, the same school at which Cameron Murray attended. Amazingly, Daniel scored more than 50% of the Harold Matthews Cup’s points in the 2022 season, winning the best back award for the team. He is evasive and can make his opposition miss regularly in a one-on-one situation. He has a good turn of speed and is strong defensively, combined with his excellent goal kicking. Daniel will be part of the Black Rabbits EPD program between 2023 and 2025.

Heslin, 17, is another Botany Rams product with a similar trajectory to his team mate, Daniel Wright. He was the co-captain of the 2022 Harold Matthews team alongside Daniel and won the team’s best forward award this year. He is multi-talented, attending the prestigious Scots College on an academic scholarship whilst taking part in the school’s elite rugby and rowing programs. A tough player that runs great lines with a massive work rate, he is quite versatile on an edge. Mateus will be part of the Black Rabbits EPD between 2023 and 2025.

Herring, 17, joined the Rabbitohs SG Ball squad in 2022 from Manly-Warringah having won the 2021 Harold Matthews Cup premiership with the Sea Eagles. He earned a shot to start at hooker following some injuries to established players and took his opportunity with both hands. TJ is extremely fit and crafty out of dummy-half and has a solid kicking game. He will be part of the Black Rabbits EPD in seasons 2023 and 2024.

Rabbitohs Head of Elite Pathways and Player Development, Joe O’Callaghan, says these players will form part of a bright future for the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the years to come.

“We’re delighted to have secured the services of Jye, Haizyn and Liam on extended deals from 2023 out of Queensland, as well as extending the contracts of our local players in Tyrone, Aaron, Daniel, Mateus and TJ. We see them all having bright futures at our Club and we’re excited to bring them into our programs here in Sydney from 2023 onwards.

“We’ve worked hard to develop our EPD programs both in NSW and South-East Queensland. These programs have allowed these young players to develop in our system whilst still being able to have the support of their family and friends in a home environment. That is very important to us knowing these players can be supported at a young age without having to take them out of their home environments until they are ready.

“We’ve targeted players in particular positions according to our NRL succession planning for the years to come, and it’s fantastic to see players like Jye getting the opportunity to represent at the junior State of Origin level this year, especially when he is still a year young for the under 19s game.

“They are all at the stage now where they can come to South Sydney, play in the red and green and represent our Club on a weekly basis in our SG Ball Cup and Jersey Flegg Cup teams in 2023, with a view to earning NSW Cup and NRL selections in the future.

“We also have a host of other young contracted players who will have the opportunity to train with the NRL squad in the 2023 pre-season, including half Dion Teaupa, lock Jaxson Rahme, prop Isaiah Vailalo, hooker Romano Cook, and second rowers Thomas Fletcher and Louis Grossemy, who have all played in the Club’s junior representative teams throughout 2022 including the under 19s SG Ball Cup side and the under 21s Jersey Flegg Cup squad.

“It’s a fantastic reward for these young guys to take the step up to an NRL pre-season training regimen under (Head Coach) Jason Demetriou and (Head of Performance) Travis Touma so they can see and experience what it takes to make it at the elite levels of the game. We’re confident they have the work ethic to be able to take that step forward and it will be a solid learning experience for them as well.”

The Rabbitohs will also have an unprecedented representation at the upcoming Australian Schoolboys Carnival with 18 of the 160 players taking part all contracted to the Rabbitohs.

The Carnival will be played between 2-8 July in Redcliffe with the elite schoolboy players on show for their respective teams at both the under 18s and under 15s levels.

The Rabbitohs players at the Australian Schoolboys Carnival are:

NSW Combined Catholic Colleges (NSWCCC) U18s – Thomas Fletcher
NSW Combined High Schools (NSWCHS) U18s – Tyrone Munro, Aaron Macey
NSW Combined Independent Schools (NSWCIS) U18s – Daniel Wright, Mateus Heslin, Bayley Meredith
QLD Secondary Schools Rugby League (QSSRL) U18s – Jye Gray, Haizyn Mellars, Liam Le Blanc
NSWCHS U15s – Tamoko Berryman-Duff, Clayton McGoon, Lochlin Moses
NSWCIS U15s – Christian Pasikala, Taj Aufai-Farani, Keone Anitelea-Tsioussi
QSSRL U15s – Seth Gundry, Mace Andrews, Cooper Cracknell

“This representation of 18 players out of the 160 players that will represent their various teams at the Australia Schoolboys Carnival in July is exceptional for our Club,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“We’re excited to see how they go at this level and wish the under 18s players all the best with their tournaments and selections in the Australian Schoolboys team, as well as the under 15s players who are trying to earn selection in the Australian U15s Schoolboys merit team.

“We’re very proud of these players and it’s fantastic to know that over 11% of the players at the tournament will be wearing the red and green of the Rabbitohs for their club football. That’s a solid representation considering players from all 17 NRL Clubs will be represented at the tournament.

“We can’t wait to see them play here, as well as for the Rabbitohs long into the future.”

Biographies

Name: Tyrone Munro
Date of Birth: 26 December 2004
Place of Birth:  Moree, NSW
Position: Wing, fullback
Height: 188cm
Weight: 85kg
Junior Club:  Botany Rams
Rep Honours:  NSW U18s CHS (2021-22)
Awards: NSWCHS Player of the Carnival (2022), Harold Matthews Cup player of the year (2021)

Name:  Jye Gray
Date of Birth: 4 March 2004
Place of Birth:  Liverpool, NSW
Position:  Five-eighth, fullback
Height: 161cm
Weight: 78kg
Junior Club: Burleigh Bears
Rep Honours:  QLD U19s (2022), QLD U18s Schoolboys (2021-22)
Awards:  Mal Meninga Cup five-eighth of the year (2022)

Name:  Haizyn Mellars
Date of Birth:  5 May 2004
Place of Birth:  Howick, NZ
Position:  Centre, wing
Height: 193cm
Weight: 90kg
Junior Club:  Wynnum-Manly Seagulls
Rep Honours: Rugby League: QLD U18s Emerging Origin squad (2022), QLD U18s schoolboys (2022), QLD City U17s (2021), 
Basketball: QLD U18s (2022)

Name: Liam Le Blanc
Date of Birth: 13 September 2004
Place of Birth:  Ingham, QLD
Position: Prop, lock
Height: 185cm
Weight: 98kg
Junior Club: Norths Devils
Rep Honours:  QLD U18s Emerging Origin squad (2022), QLD U18s schoolboys (2022), QLD City U17s (2021)

Name: Aaron Macey
Date of Birth:  28 September 2004
Place of Birth:  Sydney, NSW
Position: Centre, fullback
Height: 182cm
Weight: 88kg
Junior Club: Botany Rams
Rep Honours:  NSW U18s CHS (2022)
Awards: Harold Matthews Cup best back (2021), Harold Matthews Cup captain (2021)

Name: Daniel Wright
Date of Birth: 29 March 2005
Place of Birth:  Sydney, NSW
Position: Centre, five-eighth
Height: 179cm
Weight: 80kg
Junior Club: Botany Rams
Rep Honours: NSW U18s CIS (2022)
Awards: Harold Matthews Cup best back (2022), Harold Matthews Cup co-captain (2022), Harold Matthews Cup most improved (2021)

Name: Mateus Heslin
Date of Birth: 4 April 2005
Place of Birth: Dallas, USA
Position: Second row, centre
Height: 185cm
Weight: 85kg
Junior Club: Botany Rams
Rep Honours:  NSW U18s CIS (2022)
Awards: Harold Matthews Cup best forward (2022), Harold Matthews Cup co-captain (2022)

Name: TJ Herring
Date of Birth: 6 July 2004
Place of Birth: Sydney, NSW
Position: Hooker
Height: 177cm
Weight: 87kg
Junior Club:  Harbord Devils, Beacon Hill Bears
Rep Honours:  Rugby League: Sydney Red U18s (2022)
Rugby union: NSW U18s CHS (2022)
Awards: SG Ball Cup most improved (2022)

Acknowledgement of Country

South Sydney Rabbitohs respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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