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Young Sea Eagles develop their skills with NRL squad

They are young, keen, and ready to take their skills to another level in season 2021.

Zac Saddler, Sione Fainu, Kaeo Weekes, and Alec Tuitavake are the four young men in Manly’s NRL Development squad for next season.

Each day, they arrive at the Sea Eagles headquarters at Narrabeen to develop their skills and learn from experienced first graders about what it takes to become an NRL player.

A tall, solidly built prop, Saddler joined Manly midway through the 2019 season after previously working with Sea Eagles Coach Des Hasler and Recruitment Manager Noel Cleal at the Canterbury Bulldogs.

After spending the rest of the season in Manly’s U20s team, Saddler earned a development contract for 2020.

Saddler got a small taste of the NRL when he played for Manly in the Nines tournament in Perth before getting the call up to play for the Indigenous All Stars against the Maori All Stars in February.

Bright futures..Manly's 2021 Development players (l-r) Kaeo Weekes, Zac Saddler, Sione Fainu, and Alec Tuitavake
Bright futures..Manly's 2021 Development players (l-r) Kaeo Weekes, Zac Saddler, Sione Fainu, and Alec Tuitavake ©Ben Hamilton (Manly Media)

As for Fainu, Weekes, and Tuitavake, all three have come through the strong Sea Eagles Pathways Program after commencing with the club as 13 and 14-year-olds. All three are new to the development squad in 2021.

A damaging running prop with good ball skills, Fainu won the NSW U18s State Player of the Year award in 2019. He is the younger brother of hooker Manase Fainu.

Weekes has been one of Manly’s standout players in the NSWRL Harold Matthews and SG Ball competitions in recent seasons and captained SG Ball last year.

A talented back with great skills and speed, Weekes was a prolific tryscorer in the junior representative ranks.

He notched up 11 tries in 2017 for Manly in the Harold Matthews competition in his first season of junior reps despite playing up an age group. His form saw him represent the NSW U16s in 2017.

Tuitavake was one of Manly’s most dominant forwards in the Harold Matthews and SG Ball sides. A powerful running prop, he was also selected in the NSW U18s and the Australian Schoolboys rugby league teams in 2019.

Fainu, Weekes and Tuitavake all represented the NSW U18s in 2019 alongside Josh Schuster and Ben Trbojevic. Weekes and Fainu are also members of the NSWRL Future Blues program.

Meanwhile, promising Sea Eagles Jersey Flegg players Daniel Ala, Jack Birt, and Jonah Palota-Kopa have been given the opportunity to train with the Manly NRL squad in the lead up to Christmas.