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!