With half of the NRL teams rostered on for their first bye round this week, the chances of impressing in the lower grades and earning an immediate call-up were limited.

The Penrith Panthers showed their hand by choosing to rest seven players from their high-flying squad, with one eye on the first-grade fixture against Canterbury on Friday night.

Ivan Cleary’s men will be decimated by NSW Origin selection, which means plenty of young talent will get their chance to make a name for themselves; the competition’s leading point-scorer Kurt Falls is in line for an opportunity in the halves.

Elsewhere, a Rooster pressed his claims for another spell in their backline and a Canberra young gun could be seen as a replacement for Josh Papalii as he heads into Maroons camp.

Adam Keighran

The North Sydney Bears edged South Sydney 32-24, in a clash that Adam Keighran starred in. The back scored a double for his side, as well as being perfect from the boot.

With Daniel Tupou chosen for NSW and Joseph Suaalii potentially being ruled out through concussion protocols for their clash against Canberra, Keighran has a big chance of being picked by Trent Robinson on Tuesday.

Keighran has excelled in the NSW Cup this year and possesses plenty of experience in the centres, which could be invaluable to the Roosters as Joey Manu most likely switches to fullback in order to compensate for the loss of James Tedesco. 

Harry Rushton

The young forward has been in and out of Ricky Stuart’s first-grade side over the last month or so. And he did no harm to his selection chances with another strong performance in the Raiders’ narrow 30-28 loss to Parramatta.

Playing alongside fellow hopeful Corey Harawira-Naera, the Englishman once again showed his ability to make driving runs through the middle while also possessing a great work-rate. He made a team-high 44 tackles, during his 73 minutes on the field. 

A spot on the bench is most likely against the Roosters, with him and a number of his teammates having to compensate for the massive hole that Papalii will leave in Canberra’s engine room.

Corey Allan

Despite playing in a losing side, there was still a lot to like about Allan’s display. At fullback, he provided plenty of spark with the ball in-hand throughout the Dogs’ 40-22 loss to St George.

The former Queensland Origin representative ran for a team-high 136m, while also crossing for a late consolation try.

The versatile 24-year-old could soon muscle his way into interim coach Mick Potter’s calculations, if he continues to produce points for his side and back it up with strong carries out of the backfield.

Maika Sivo

Despite the Eels having next week off, another strong performance from Sivo has him almost assured of a first-grade return in two weeks’ time.

The big winger is still on the comeback trail, after suffering an ACL injury at the backend of last year. However, in his few displays in the NSW Cup he’s proved that his trademark pace and power can still be relied upon.

The Fijian crossed for a try, when he strolled over untouched late in the first half of the Eel’s victory over the Raiders.

His performance comes off the back of his breathtaking return to action in the last round, where he notched a double, had four tackle busts and ran for over 150 metres.

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