September 26, 2022

Part 3 – 2008 to 2012: Players who made their first grade debuts and never returned to the NRL again

5 min read

BY CURTIS WOODWARD

@woodward_curtis

Think of every kid that ever laced a footy boot and then consider how many of them never actually make it to top flight rugby league? So many more miss out than actually get to live their dream in the NRL.

It is rarely celebrated but anyone, even if it is one game, should be recognised.

Some have become far more successful in their post-playing days too.

Thanks to the incredible Rugby League Project website, we’ve gone back and found every player of the NRL era that was one-and-done.

Part III.

Sinbad Kali
Melbourne Storm 2008
Round 16, bench vs Eels @ Parramatta Stadium
Result: Eels 24 def. Storm 22

Karl Filiga
Cronulla Sharks 2008
Round 13, bench vs Panthers @ Penrith Park
Result: Sharks 24 def. Panthers 22

Likened to Sonny Bill Williams before making his first grade debut, the Sharks signed him for $600,000 without playing a game in the NRL. Came off the bench in a win against Penrith but was never sighted in the NRL again. Would later appear in bush footy.

Sam Bowie
North Queensland Cowboys 2009
Round 16, bench vs Rabbitohs @ Dairy Farmers Stadium
Result: Rabbitohs 29 def. Cowboys 28

Sione Tovo
Newcastle Knights 2009
Round 23, bench vs Storm @ EnergyAustralia Stadium
Result: Knights 26 def. Storm 14

A journeyman who represented both Tonga and Niue on the international stage.

Ben McFadgean
Penrith Panthers 2009
Round 28, wing vs Rabbitohs @ Stadium Australia
Result: Rabbitohs 36 def. Panthers 12

A Panthers junior, McFadgean left to cut his teeth in the QLD Cup before returning to Penrith before making his debut in 2008. Now lives back in Queensland.

Daniel O’Regan
Sydney Roosters 2009
Round 4, bench vs Rabbitohs @ Mt Smart Stadium
Result: Rabbitohs 22 def. Warriors 16

Became the 150th player to represent the Warriors in first grade. Signed with the Storm for 2010 but didn’t play again in the NRL.

Khalid Deeb
Sydney Roosters 2009
Round 25, bench vs Storm @ Olympic Park
Result: Storm 38 def. Roosters 4

Became a legend of Newtown Jets in the lower grades and represented Lebanon 13 times.

Ray Moujalli
Sydney Roosters 2009
Round 15, bench vs Cowboys @ Dairy Farmers Stadium
Result: Cowboys 24 def. Roosters 22

Another one-timer for the Roosters in 2008 of Lebanese heritage and play 17 representative games for the Cedars. Now works in strength and conditioning.

Tim Weyman
Cronulla Sharks 2009
Round 23, bench vs Wests Tigers @ Shark Park
Result: Wests Tigers 56 def. Sharks 10

A forgettable night for the younger brother of Australian and Blues prop, Mick. Not only were the Sharks smashed by Wests Tigers, Tim was hit hard in a tackle and concussed. Would go on to lead Moruya to a premiership as captain-coach and claim the Clayton Cup.

Nathan Waters
Wests Tigers 2010
Round 8, bench vs Roosters @ Campbelltown Stadium
Result: Roosters 12 def. Wests Tigers 8

Became a successful lower grade coach for the Wests Magpies in retirement.

Upu Poching
Warriors 2010
Round 10, prop vs Cowboys @ Mt Smart Stadium
Result: Warriors 24 def. Cowboys 12

A Junior Kiwi, Poching was named Auckland Vulcans Player of the Year in 2011.

Jason Baitieri
Roosters 2010
Round 10, bench vs Wests Tigers @ Campbelltown Stadium
Result: Roosters 12 def. Wests Tigers 8

Debuted from the bench in the same match as fellow one-game Nathan Waters. Baitieri then went to the Super League and played 224 games for Catalans and represented France in 3 games.

Daniel Fepuleai
Roosters 2010
Round 5, bench vs Panthers @ Penrith Park
Result: Panthers 28 def. Roosters 6

A Hurstville United junior and Cook Islands representative, Fepuleai came off the pine in the Roosters loss to Penrith in 2010 before enjoying a stint in the USA with the New Jersey Turnpike Titans. Now works as a carpenter in Sydney.

Michael Spence
Broncos 2010
Round 9, bench vs Storm @ AAMI Park
Result: Broncos 36 def. Storm 14

After making his NRL debut, Spence turned to another line of work with the Hells Angels bikie gang and spent a short amount of time in jail.

Pele Peletelese
Eels 2010
Round 17, bench vs Warriors @ Mt Smart Stadium
Result: Warriors 35 def. Eels 6

Born in Auckland, the young prop cut his teeth with Burleigh in the QLD Cup before being picked up by Parramatta. Then returned to QLD and became a legend of the Currumbin Eagles footy club in his later footy years.

Trent Grubb
Sharks 2010
Round 26, second row vs Panthers @ Penrith Park
Result: Panthers 50 def. Sharks 12

Director and co-founder of Transform40 gym in Caringbah.

Dane Chisholm
Storm 2011
Round 10, wing vs Raiders @ AAMI Park
Result: Raiders 20 def. Storm 12

A late inclusion for Melbourne on the wing on a Saturday night against the Raiders. The son of former Manly hack, Rick, the playmaker would then head to England eventually represent France in one test in 2011 after a stint in lower grades at Wests Tigers.

Shea Moylan
Broncos 2011
Round 14, wing vs Raiders @ Suncorp Stadium
Result: Broncos 25 def. Raiders 24

“Shea Moylan retired from the Seagulls after the 2014 season, but not before notching up some impressive milestones across his rugby league career. 2011 was the highlight that saw Moylan debut for the Brisbane Broncos before going on to win the Intrust Super Cup with the Seagulls and score a try in the Grand Final to cap off a remarkable season” from wynnumseagulls.com.au.

Kane Morgan
Rabbitohs 2011
Round 4, wing vs Sea Eagles @ Central Coast Stadium
Result: Rabbitohs 32 def. Sea Eagles 30

A Junior NSW representative at Under 18’s level but due to his heritage, also played for the Junior Kiwis a few years later prior to his NRL debut. Heralded as a star of the future, Morgan was blooded early in the 2011 season. Wasn’t seen in the top grade again.

Mark Kheirallah
Roosters 2011
Round 17, fullback vs Raiders @ Sydney Football Stadium
Result: Raiders 38 def. Roosters 12

Became a legend of the French club Toulouse over a ten year stint and helped steer them to promotion into the Super League but was then terminated by the club for not adhering to their COVID protocols. Now plays for Featherstone in England.

Francis Vaiotu
Roosters 2011
Round 14, wing vs Storm @ AAMI Park
Result: Storm 21 def. Roosters 4

Rory Brien
Eels 2011
Round 22, bench vs Rabbitohs @ Stadium Australia
Result: Rabbitohs 56 def. Eels 6

Brett Lane
Bulldogs 2012
Round 15, wing vs Dragons @ WIN Stadium
Result: Bulldogs 28 def. Dragons 20

His older brother Shaun, current star of the Eels explained what inspired him to play first grade, from bulldogs.com.au in 2015: “My brother got a game for Bulldogs a couple of years ago [in the] NRL, so he played one game and that’s kind of inspired me to maybe push on a bit further than him. Rugby league’s been a big part of my family and growing up.”

Brett is now a physiotherapist working in Sydney.

Neccrom Areaiiti
Rabbitohs 2012
Round 7, bench vs Warriors @ Mt Smart Stadium
Result: Warriors 44 def. Rabbitohs 22

Mosese Pangai
Cowboys 2012
Round 1, wing vs Titans @ 1300SMILES Stadium
Result: Titans 18 def. Cowboys 0

Older brother of current NRL star Tevita Pangai Junior. Not many of our one-gamers have been picked for round one of the season but Mosese Pangai was. The big Tongan outside back was born in Newcastle but impressed for Wests Tigers in the Under 20’s system before signing with the Cowboys. Was set for a second game in the NRL in 2014 for the Raiders before being replaced late by Sami Sauiluma. Became a powerhouse in the QLD Cup and was rewarded with a contract with the Broncos but didn’t play in the NRL again.

@woodward_curtis

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