8 familiar faces you (probably) had no idea were plying their trade in New South Wales Cup

Ben Olawumi
Dylan Napa, Alex Young, Billy Magoulias

From left to right: NSW Cup stars Dylan Napa, Alex Young & Billy Magoulias

Having looked through the full list, you’d be surprised at just how many familiar faces are currently playing second-grade Down Under, and in the New South Wales Cup, there’s plenty to pick from.

Founded way back in 1908, the NSW Cup consists of 13 teams – 11 from the New South Wales area and one each from Auckland (New Zealand Warriors) & the Australian Capital Territory (Canberra Raiders).

All teams involved in the competition are either official reserve sides of NRL outfits – such as the two mentioned above – or ‘affiliated’ to an NRL side, essentially a feeder club.

For example, the North Sydney Bears don’t carry the name of Melbourne Storm, but as of 2024, have entered into a two-year affiliate partnership.

Below, we’ve taken a look at an octet of familiar faces currently plying their trade in the competition…

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Geronimo Doyle (NSW – New Zealand Warriors)

Full-back Doyle featured 21 times for Swinton Lions and made 13 appearances for Whitehaven the following year before heading Down Under.

He was never a prolific try-scorer during his time in the British game, but scored plenty in Auckland Rugby League for Ōtāhuhu last year prior to linking up with the Warriors’ NSW Cup side. He has now made 16 appearances in total in the NSW Cup, including 10 this year.

Bailey Hodgson (NRL Supplementary list – Manly Sea Eagles, Blacktown Workers NSW Cup)

Sitili Tupouniua, Bailey Hodgson
Manly Sea Eagles’ Bailey Hodgson (right) tries to tackle Sydney Roosters’ Sitili Tupouniua (left) during an NRL pre-season game in 2024

When he made his Super League debut as an 18-year-old for Castleford Tigers in October 2020, full-back Hodgson looked like one of the brightest young talents in the country, and his potential was enough for Newcastle Knights to offer him a three-year deal.

Blighted by injuries, his time at the Knights ended without an NRL appearance. The nephew of ex-England international Josh, who retired last year due to injury after nine seasons Down Under, Bailey is now in the NSW Cup with Blacktown Workers, the affiliate team to Manly Sea Eagles. Currently on a ‘supplementary’ contract, he has made 11 appearances this season.

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Billy Magoulias (Newtown Jets, NSW Cup)

Sydney-born utility Magoulias, who has 17 NRL appearances to his name for Cronulla Sharks, featured just eight times for Warrington Wolves in an ill-fated 2022 season, released in June that year on compassionate grounds and allowed to return home.

The five-time Greece international had been with Newtown Jets – the feeder team for Cronulla – previously, named in the NSW Cup Team of the Year in 2019. He returned to the same destination, captaining the second-grade outfit in 2023. Having featured on eight occasions this year, the 27-year-old has now racked up a total of 81 appearances in the competition.

Lewis Murphy (NRL – Sydney Roosters development list, Roosters reservs in NSW Cup)

Lewis Murphy
Lewis Murphy pictured ahead of a Wakefield Trinity game in 2024

22-year-old winger Murphy only made the move Down Under this year, linking up with the Roosters’ reserves, and featuring four times so far this year with his first try for the club coming in his last outing against St George Illawarra Dragons’ second string.

The young Englishman’s move to Australia was confirmed last April, just a few weeks after he’d been ruled out for the remainder of the 2023 season with an ACL injury. He had played 24 games for Wakefield Trinity prior to that injury, including three last year, with 19 tries to his name in 2022 alone.

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Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters reserves, NSW Cup)

Brisbane-born Napa is a NRL champion having won the Grand Final with the Roosters in 2018 before departing for Canterbury Bulldogs and eventually Catalans Dragons. While with the Dragons for a sole season in 2022, the four-time Cook Islands international – who has played in two World Cups – made 20 appearances, reaching the play-offs.

Upon his return Down Under, he linked back up with the Roosters, acting as an older head among the club’s second-grade side, featuring just the once in the NRL last season. The prop, 31, has featured in eight NSW Cup games to date this term, adding to the 14 he played in last year.

Josh Ralph (St George Illawarra Dragons reserves in NSW Cup)

Josh Ralph
Josh Ralph in action for Wales at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup

Born in Southport (Queensland, not Merseyside!), half-back Ralph was a shining star in the Championship for Toulouse Olympique last year. Scoring 15 tries in 23 appearances, Olympique lost out in the Million Pound Game to London Broncos, which in turn saw the 26-year-old playmaker miss out on a chance to play in Super League.

A seven-time Wales international, representing the Dragons through his heritage, Ralph instead returned Down Under and is now in the NSW Cup with St George’s second-grade side. Featuring eight times so far this year, he’s scored two tries, and at one point looked in line for an NRL debut.

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Billy Tsikrikas (South Sydney Rabbitohs reserves, NSW Cup)

Tsikrikas‘ time in England was short, featuring four times for Castleford last year having arrived on loan from Canterbury Bulldogs in July. The forward, who made two NRL appearances for the Bulldogs in 2022, helped the Tigers over the line in their bid for Super League survival.

Let go by Canterbury, the eight-time Greece international linked up with South Sydney Rabbitohs ahead of this year and made his first appearance for the Bunnies in the NSW Cup coming earlier this month. Having also appeared in it for Penrith Panthers, 29-year-old Tsikrikas has now played a total of 40 games in the second-grade competition.

Alex Young (Sydney Roosters supplementary list – Roosters reserves NSW Cup)

Alex Young, Jamaica
Sydney Roosters’ Alex Young, brother of England star Dom, in action for Jamaica at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup

We’ve named one already on this list in Doyle, but there aren’t many who head to the Southern Hemisphere before they’ve made a Super League appearance, and Young is one of those. Having made 56 appearances between Workington Town & Newcastle Thunder, the winger linked up with the Roosters’ NSW Cup side ahead of this year.

Younger brother Dom, of course, also made the move to the Roosters in the off-season and is excelling in the NRL, showing no sign of slowing down on the try-scoring front. Dewsbury native Alex, 25, represents Jamaica on the international front – appearing twice in the delayed 2021 Rugby League World Cup – and has made three appearances in the NSW Cup to date.

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