Eight months after a shock Test debut, Tesi Niu's remarkable rise will continue when he makes his NRL debut for Brisbane against Sydney Roosters on Thursday night.
Coach Anthony Seibold has confirmed the boom teenager will be named on the bench against the two-time defending premiers in a Broncos line-up hit by injury and suspension.
Niu - who turns 19 on August 11 - entered an elite club when he played international football before an NRL game, impressing on Test debut in Tonga's 14-6 upset of Great Britain last October in Hamilton.
It made NRL rivals sit up and take notice with Gold Coast pursuing the off-contract teenager before Niu reportedly agreed to a new Broncos deal set to be confirmed in a fortnight.
Now Brisbane are set to unleash the highly-rated flyer against the Roosters as they battle the loss of captain Alex Glenn (calf laceration) and centre Kotoni Staggs (suspension) in the wake of their loss in round three.
Herbie Farnworth will move to the centres to cover for Staggs with Niu getting the nod over Xavier Coates to be named on the bench.
"Tesi Niu will come off the bench, he'll be the utility back," Seibold told the Broncos website.
"With Herbie being promoted to the starting side, Tesi gets the opportunity.
"Xavier Coates wasn't far way from that opportunity either.
"But I've seen Tesi be really consistent at training and he's someone who we've got a really high regard for."
Niu had been tipped to make his NRL debut sooner rather than later after impressing Seibold in pre-season training.
The former Queensland under-18s star had initially been ineligible to play first grade until July 1, due to his rookie contract status, before the NRL relaxed the rule after the competition's coronavirus shutdown.
Meanwhile, Seibold said Ethan Bullemor would replace Glenn in the starting back-row against the Tri-Colours.
"There's a number of internationals in the Roosters team so it's a really good test for our group, particularly our young players, but we have great belief in our group," Seibold said.
"We're missing a few players but we feel as though if we can prepare well then we can get the job done."
Australian Associated Press