Canberra Raiders' Harold Matthews Cup star Taulauniuotagoloa Mariota. Credit: Raiders Digital
Canberra Raiders' Harold Matthews Cup star Taulauniuotagoloa Mariota. Credit: Raiders Digital

Western Sydney delivers another gun prop to Canberra

He's the Canberra wrecking ball who brushed off seven defenders with ease on the way to a blockbusting solo try that would give defenders nightmares.

A 115-kilogram prop with halfback skills, Taulauniuotagoloa Mariota has a long name and is on track for an even longer career in the top flight.

Still just 16, the Harold Matthews bookend attends Bonnyrigg high school in Sydney and travels to Canberra twice a week for training and games.

Nicknamed 'Niu', the New Zealand-born Mount Pritchard junior is incredibly strong and skilful.

His eye-catching try in Canberra's 20-8 win over St George on Saturday was simply a sign of things to come with Mariota shaping as the latest in an ongoing Raiders production line of front rowers with Josh Papalii'i, Paul Vaughan, Corey Horsburgh and Emre Guler all coming through the capital in recent years.

LIVE stream Rabbitohs v Dragons in the 2020 Charity Shield on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

 

 

”Nui” Mariota is making a name for himself. Image: Raiders Digital
”Nui” Mariota is making a name for himself. Image: Raiders Digital

 

Mariota broke his thumb last year and missed a large chunk of the Harold Matthews season, but he is back bigger and better than ever before according to Raiders 16s coach David Small.

"He is a big lump but he has got fast twitch muscle, which is pretty handy," Small said.

"Some of the bigger boys struggle to get around at times, but this guy moves well. He has got fantastic hands. He is the old halfback stuck in props body.

"He was 120 kilos in November, but he is now down to 115. He is still untapped and he has a lot to learn, but that try that he scored on the weekend highlights what he is capable of.

"He just needs to find a bit more consistency, which you would expect from a 16-year-old - he is still a kid."

The Raiders have an impressive young crop of front-rowers, including former Eel Trey Mooney.

Mariota isn't the only member of his family that is talented at football.

His older brother Ata is equally gifted. He starred on the SG Ball stage last year and has stepped up to Canberra's under 20s squad this season.

Small coached Ata in the 18s and can't speak more highly of the emerging prop.

"He was outstanding.

"His success was astonishing. When he turned up for pre-season he had hardly played rugby league.

"It was really noticeable. It was like working with a blank canvas, so everything you taught him he just did and there were no bad habits."

Small believes the Mariota brothers have a bright future as long as they maintain their work ethic and listen to Canberra's NRL coaches.

"Ricky Stuart and his staff have a bit of input on the junior rep teams," he said.

"I'll give Ricky credit. Ever since he has arrived, he has gone out of his way to know about the lower grade players.

"He takes a real interest in the juniors. He was at our game on Sunday with his assistant coach.

"They are always willing to have a chat to our players. It is nice to have them around."


Unexpected discovery stops work on major project

premium_icon Unexpected discovery stops work on major project

Investigation under way after a surprise find during excavation

Ship off North Coast assessed after containers lost

premium_icon Ship off North Coast assessed after containers lost

THE ship has lost about 40 containers and others are protruding from both sides.

Charities slammed at bushfire response inquiry

premium_icon Charities slammed at bushfire response inquiry

The disastrous fire season that devastated NSW and Victoria was made worse by a...