AJ Towse and 5 other Championship stars ready to make Super League step up for first time

Ben Olawumi
Mitch Souter, AJ Towse, James Roumanos

Bradford Bulls' Mitch Souter (left), York's AJ Towse (middle) & Toulouse Olympique's James Roumanos (right)

York’s AJ Towse is attracting Super League interest, and by 2025 could well be a top flight player. That got us thinking of some other superb talent in the Championship, and we’ve pulled together a sextet below.

The only rule? They can’t have made a Super League appearance yet in their career, which ruled out a good number of aces now plying their trade in the Championship who already have a handful of top flight run outs on their CV.

The six we have chosen are detailed below, and looked at alphabetically by surname.

Aidan McGowan (Bradford Bulls)

Aidan McGowan
Aidan McGowan in action for Bradford Bulls in 2024

Before you all start ranting and raving, we’re well aware that full-back McGowan is technically already a Super League player, contracted with Huddersfield Giants until the end of the current season having progressed through their academy. BUT he’s yet to make a senior appearance for the Giants, and we think he’s ready to make that step up next year.

Currently shining out on a season-long loan with Bradford, the 22-year-old has now featured in the Championship either on dual-registration or loan for the last four years on the spin, also featuring for York, Dewsbury Rams & Batley Bulldogs. Across all competitions, McGowan has five tries in 12 appearances for the Bulls to date in 2024.

The Ireland youth international is earning plenty of praise for his showings, carrying on from where he left off having been nominated for the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award in 2023 after his loan at Batley. If Huddersfield aren’t prepared to give him a shot at first-team action, we’re sure others in the top tier will be on the phone shortly.

James Roumanos (Toulouse Olympique)

James Roumanos Lebanon Alamy
James Roumanos in action for Lebanon at the delayed 2021 Rugby League World Cup

New South Wales native Roumanos has made the move into the British game this year with Toulouse Olympique, appearing five times for them so far having penned a one-year deal.

A five-time Lebanon international, the forward – who primarily sits at loose – also has one NRL appearance on his CV, made for Manly Sea Eagles towards the back end of the 2022 campaign against former club Canterbury Bulldogs, whom he featured for at second-grade level Down Under.

Roumanos will turn 25 in August, and is someone that stood out while playing for Lebanon in the delayed 2021 Rugby League World Cup. Pair that with the small amount we’ve managed to catch of him in a Toulouse shirt so far this year, despite their sluggish start, and we think he could step up into the top flight.

Mitch Souter (Bradford Bulls)

Mitch Souter
Bradford Bulls’ Mitch Souter

Another Australian in Souter also only moved into the British game this year, linking up with Bradford, but is already receiving interest from Super League clubs.

That comes as no surprise given the talent he possesses, and the potential that people can see in the young hooker who will turn 23 later this year. Yet to miss a game for the Bulls, he’s not shy of a dart out of dummy half and is chipping in with the odd try too, scoring in Sunday’s victory against Swinton Lions to take his tally up to three for the season.

Having come through Canberra Raiders’ youth ranks, Souter is already making his mark over here, and looks destined to make the step up to Super League sooner rather than later. He’s only contracted at Odsal until the end of the season.

AJ Towse (York)

AJ Towse
Youngster AJ Towse in action for York in 2024

Love Rugby League brought you the news of Super League interest in York speedster Towse on Monday, and giving the start to life the youngster has enjoyed at his hometown club, it really does come as no surprise.

21 come August, Towse – who came through at local club Heworth – debuted for York in 2021, but it took a while for him to make a real breakthrough. Sent out on loan to Rochdale Hornets & Coventry Bears (now Midlands Hurricanes), he appeared on dual-registration only last week for Newcastle Thunder with selection at the LNER Community Stadium not a given.

After eight tries in 18 appearances for York in 2022, the winger got 20 in 34 appearances last year en-route to a nomination for the Championship’s Young Player of the Year award, and has started 2024 by crossing the whitewash five times in his first six run outs for York, but we’d be surprised if a move upwards isn’t on the cards.

Paul Turner (Featherstone Rovers)

Paul Turner St George Illawarra Dragons Alamy
Paul Turner in action for St George Illawarra Dragons in 2023

We don’t wish to devalue Super League whatsoever, but you feel that if half-back Turner was an Englishman, he’d already be a Super League player. At 23, set to turn 24 in July, the Whangārei-born playmaker has appearances in the NRL to his name in each of the last four seasons before this as well as a wealth at second-grade level Down Under.

The former New Zealand Warriors, Gold Coast Titans & St George Illawarra Dragons ace also represented the Kiwi Māori All Stars in 2023, and has now moved into the British game with Featherstone.

He enjoyed a really strong performance on debut in the Challenge Cup against Super League opposition in Leigh Leopards in March, and by all accounts has steadily got better since then. Turner only has one try to his name so far for the Rovers, but halves are worth more than just those type of stats. We’d be very intrigued to see how he’d go in the top tier in 2025.

Lachlan Walmsley (Wakefield Trinity)

Lachlan Walmsley
Winger Lachlan Walmsley (centre) has continued to score tries for fun since his off-season move to Wakefield Trinity

Whenever there’s an article we write about Championship players impressing or deserving some recognition, the likelihood is that this man will be included. You can’t look past Walmsley really, because no one in the second tier scores tries at the rate the ‘Flying Scotsman’ does.

The winger will turn 26 in June, and quite simply has been among the very best in the second tier since his arrival at Whitehaven in 2021. He’s made 90 competitive club appearances since then between Haven, Halifax Panthers & Wakefield Trinity, and crossed the whitewash 101 tries as well as scoring two in four games for Scotland on the international front.

It looks like he’ll finally get his chance in Super League with Wakefield come 2025. If and when that happens, it’ll be a richly-deserved achievement.

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