The point of these rookie watch articles are to give you a deeper insight into the Raiders juniors you don’t know yet.
Full disclosure. I thought I had more time to dive into James Schiller. Based on the centres we had lined up at the start of the year he was further down my list.
Astute rugby league scouts such as Nick from the Green Machine Podcast and Lobby from League By The Fire Placeplace have been whispering about his talent for a while now. So I should have known better.
Now that Ricky has named him to become Raider #379 this week from left field he’s been pushed to the front of the queue.
The Green Machine Podcast even updated their Rookie Watch segment from Xavier Savage to James Schiller to the tune of Thriller.
Unlike every article or mention I’ve seen in the last few weeks, let’s see how many paragraphs we can write without mentioning Schiller being Brett Mullin’s nephew. I’ll try and steer this article away from being like a Channel 9 commentary cliche and give you the insights on our freshman you haven’t heard.
Like his much loved Hall of Famer uncle, James was born and raised in Young, to the northern end of the Riverina. Unofficially Raiders Territory. Birthplace of Mullins, Simon Woolford and Raiders fan turned GOAT Nathan Lyon.
He excelled at rugby union for one of the greatest club names of all time – the Young Yabbies. He showed so much promise that he was drafted into the Brumbies junior system.
Like many great Riverina athletes before him, James excelled at multiple sports. He gained representative duties at regional level in swimming and athletics, qualifyed for district level in cross country and gained selection on the Riverina basketball and touch teams.
The Green Machine had a crack at cherry picking (Young pun intended) this young back into our junior representative sides but missed out on him as he headed to Wollongong to do his apprenticeship at the Dragons. He also fielded offers from the Panthers and Rabbitohs.
Still only 21, Schiller played just four games in reserve grade for the Dragons last year before COVID shut the comp down and the late Peter Mulholland swooped in to bring him to the ACT. Such is the pace of his rise that he won’t even play a reserve grade for the Raiders before lining up in the toughest comp in the world tonight against a snarling Jesse Ramien.
Dragons fans were sad to see him go as they had very high hopes for him. Jack Clifton from the Red V Podcast told us he is a “strong, powerful ball runner with good speed. A player that won’t let you down. Australian schoolboys rep, junior reps for Steelers and was one of their best.”
He’s a versatile player who is best suited to centre or wing but can also play fullback. He knows his way to the line and scored three tries in his four reserve grade games last year.
In the trials we showed that he has a solid structure to his game and can run a hard line but also showed us some aerial unpredictability too. Semi Valemei helped him onto the outside against the Roosters and Schiller threw a beautiful ball back in field to put Brad Schneider over for a try.
Watching the Raiders social media, he looks a pretty tidy goal kicker too.
We’ve all become comfortable with a lanky, head geared left centre and who knows how long this selection will last. Most thought Seb Kris was higher in the picking order but he went down with COVID so if Schiller hits his straps tonight, the left centre slot is the one position with the most opportunity in the side.
If he retains his spot until round 9 he’ll line up against his cousin, and rugba league mad man, Jack Hetherington. That will be something to behold for the families.
In the meantime we hope he can continue to play his free flowing style and become Schiller the Thriller to us all.
Good luck to James tonight. He’ll be forever green now and we hope he has a very successful career with the green machine.
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