Dylan Brown, Reed Mahoney, Maika Sivo, Marata Niukore, Oregon Kaufusi, Jaeman Salmon, Ray Stone and Ethan Parry. As Larry David would say, the list of rookies blooded by the Eels in recent times is pretty, pretty, pretty good. So good that the Eels now field one of the most competitive line-ups across the NRL, ironically putting first-grade berths at a true premium and reducing the likelihood of further debuts in the short-term.
Of course that is cyclical nature of the NRL and as the Eels swell towards a tilt at the premiership in 2020, they also need to be readying the next wave of talent that will keep them competitive in the long-term.
One of Parramatta’s blue-chip prospects in this regard is David Hollis, a hulking prop-forward that will likely draw comparisons to a one-time Parramatta junior that slipped away (more on that later). Hollis, alongside another exciting talent in Sam Hughes, has anchored forward packs throughout the junior grades for the Eels and has featured for NSW at the Under 16s and Under 18s level.
It usually isn’t the kindest thing to suggest that someone has their head in the clouds but given that Hollis clocks in at just over 195cm (or 6ft 5inches for our old school supporters) it might be a suitably apt turn of phrase for the towering forward. Hollis is no beanstalk either given that the young bull is built like a brick shit house an absolute unit and currently tips the scales at 110KG. The most pleasing (or terrifying I guess for opposition teams) aspect of these eye-popping height and weight figures is that Hollis turns 19 in 2020 and hasn’t maxed out on his playing frame.
Hollis plays an uncomplicated game – and that isn’t a bad thing for a prop forward. He leverages his superior size to drive through the defensive line and generate quick rucks while he is also able to produce the odd offload. Importantly, the quality of his carries rarely drops throughout the course of a game and more than a handful of game-winning drives/sets in the Harold Matthews and SG Ball can be attributed to a powerful Hollis carry at the death.
Amusingly, I can cast my thoughts back a number of years to a certain trial game against the Canterbury Bulldogs in which Hollis made his debut. The Dogs painted a target on his back that day and physically hammered him every carry. It was likely an important lesson for the fresh-faced recruit and in each season since Hollis has been further embracing the physicality of the game.
Even so, there is still a ways to go to match the intensity of play that the NRL challenges every prospect with but Hollis is on the right track. Every step forward he takes down this path elevates his ceiling that much more because when you have the physical boons that he possesses, the only limiting factors on your play are going to be self-imposed.
As a defender Hollis has proven to be competent without particularly excelling. As tongue-in-cheek as it sounds, the fact that he hasn’t been a liability is a positive and gives the Eels a reasonable baseline to work with as they develop him for the NRL. As with nearly every NRL prospect, this is the area of his game that will likely see the most development before a prospective top grade debut.
I am usually lairy about making sweeping comparisons between a talented junior prospect and an establish NRL star because all too often it levies unfair expectations on the young player in question. In light of that consider this, and indeed any future comparisons, purely a rough guideline on player archetypes and playing profiles rather than expectations.
In this case I feel like anyone that has taken two seconds to look at David Hollis and then a further two minutes to watch him play will invariably circle the name of one NRL player as their comparison – David Klemmer.
Klemmer has forged an outstanding career working as a freight train ploughing through defensive lines with his awesome frame while also bringing a side of offloading and aggressive defence to the table. Hollis possesses similar raw athletic gifts as the superstar Newcastle forward but what will define him is whether he has the same insane engine and honed (and sometimes unhinged!) aggression as Klemmer – something that we won’t truly know until he gets a shot in the NRL.
Time is well and truly on the side of David Hollis (and indeed all Parramatta prospects currently) with a strong first-grade roster affording him a healthy development cycle before any debut. Given that he is still eligible for two full seasons of Jersey Flegg that is decidedly a positive factor for both the player and the club. The expected growth periods of Hollis (and Hughes) should ideally gives the Eels a window to augment the likes of long term NRL fixtures like Junior Paulo and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
For now a strong season in the Jersey Flegg and potentially a call-up to the NSW Under 20s look to be in his immediate goals but make no doubt, David Hollis is most certainly a rookie to watch. Fortunately for fans, Hollis and all his exciting cohorts in the Jersey Flegg will feature in four triple-headers at Bankwest Stadium across the course of the season so be sure to get out and see the young stars for yourselves!
Sounds like a good prospect. Having forwards who can straighten the attack and deliver a quick play the ball can be a game changer. Pre-season training with the NRL squad can only sharpen his appetite and I like the pressure it keeps on the established bulls like Junior and RCG, looking forward to seeing how he progresses over the next few seasons.
What’s impressive for me is that Dave doesn’t take a backward step against the big NRL blokes in the opposed sessions. A good start for him in the squad.
At what age will he be ready for first grade?
This year will give a guide in my opinion Zero. If he gets a crack in Canterbury Cup this year, it’s an indication he’d be a chance late 2021 or early 2022.
Forty, this is a great read again and thank you for the story. I think we have some strong props on the rise, and again need to have a strangle hold on retention in light of past issues for our club. With the high level of interest around from player managers do we think parra will be keen to sign Hollis long term soon? I understand he is signed for next season, but the completion for young props often seems to be very competitive. Also, as he is 19 this yr and we don’t want to rush him, do we… Read more »
Milo, I don’t think there will vibe any rush, but likewise I don’t think he’ll be unnecessarily held back. Getting that first step into reggies should be his goal. Both Hughes and Hollis played SG Ball last year, as well as some Flegg. If they get a run in reserve grade and handle it, that’s a good first step.
The key is now to not lose them too early in their career, there’s a few to tie up beyond 2020, Hollis is one of them and Reed and Lane too. If we get our act close to 100% off the field, then results naturally follow. New training field, players happy and under contract is the level we have aspired to.
Successful clubs nail this approach, much as I dislike Roosters and Storn, that is why they are continually in the playoffs. We seem to be getting there.
Well said Derek. Can’t knock Storm or Roosters for getting those things right.
Great read forty/20. I’ve had the pleasure to occasionally catch a few of these young blokes in SC Ball and Harold Matts’ over the years. It’s terrific to follow them from when they were pups. I recall watching junior Paulo in a HM game on a cow paddock just off the Hume Highway at Liverpool about a dozen years ago, he was the same bulldozer then as he is now in NRL. I hope Hollis and Hughes are able to do the same.
I hope supporters take advantage of the lower grade matches scheduled at BankWest this year.
I will be doing my best to get there but I can’t see either the wife or grandsons wanting to watch more than one game.
No issues there Rowdy, just slip the old blindfold on them for the first two games then take it off for first grade so they only have to watch the one game!
I might have to take some rope as-well though.
Most of these young guys transitioning to NRL would have finished high school I guess.Are there any full time professionals outside the top 30? The 6 development spots?
Development contract money Is meant to be enough for a young player to train full time.
David is trial and train not on a Development contract. He has just entered his 3rd year as a Diesel Mechanic.
Cheers Wendy. I believe that a couple of the boys are similarly contracted. Reed Mahoney first joined the NRL squad on a similar arrangement coming into 2018 and was upgraded to a Development deal.
Your a champ David
Sixties, whilst on Rookies is Kyle Schneider a genuine NRL prospect, I have watched him train and he puts in, but I hear mixed reports about his ability as a genuine number 9 in the game. What are your thoughts, I know he was well thought of as a junior!
Max, I believe that Kyle will play NRL, whether it’s at Parra or elsewhere. Last year he was coming off major shoulder surgery. He was much smaller than he is now and this made contact work very challenging. He is significantly bigger this year and I believe he’ll have a successful season, whether it be in Flegg or if he gets time in Canterbury Cup.