Sunshine Coast Secondary Schools Rugby Union. Top players in the First XV in 2020.
Sunshine Coast Secondary Schools Rugby Union. Top players in the First XV in 2020.

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From fierce forwards to electric fullbacks, this year's Sunshine Coast Secondary Schools Rugby Union competition has certainly showcased plenty of rising stars.

It was late to start due to COVID-19, but teenagers were certainly quick to make their presence felt in the under-18 First XV season.

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Heading into the final round, and grand final showdown, the Sunshine Coast Daily has canvassed all nine schools in the league for their most impressive players.

The Daily will again livestream the finals on September 16, with the below talent sure to shine.

 

SUNSHINE COAST GRAMMAR A

Players impressing: Louis Werchon (halfback), Harry Grant (fly half) and Leo McCarthy (No. 8).

 

Sunshine Coast Grammar First XV player Louis Werchon
Sunshine Coast Grammar First XV player Louis Werchon

Defending champions Sunshine Coast Grammar are again on a dominant path towards a Garth Hunt Shield showdown.

The school's under-18 First XV won every game in the Sunshine Coast Secondary Schools Rugby Union competition last year, and are undefeated heading into the final round of this year's campaign.

They again boast some top talent, with coach Will Urquhart listing Louis Werchon, Harry Grant and Leo McCarthy as players who have proven strong standouts.

"It's hard to go past Louis Werchon, our No. 9," he said.

"He's a quality player and has a really good skill set and is a really effective halfback with a crisp pass.

"Louis has great footwork and is very versatile and can play across multiple positions as well."

He said both Grant and McCarthy had been quality in driving and leading play.

 

Sunshine Coast Grammar First XV player Harry Grant
Sunshine Coast Grammar First XV player Harry Grant

"(Harry) is fantastic and is someone who has a really good skill set, knowledge of the game and is really good in decision making situations. Nine times out of 10 he is making the right choices.

Sunshine Coast Grammar First XV player Leo McCarthy
Sunshine Coast Grammar First XV player Leo McCarthy

"(McCarthy) is an excellent ball carrier, has excellent lineout skills and just generally around the field has got an excellent work ethic.

"He is just a great leader of the group as well."

 

SUNSHINE COAST GRAMMAR B

Players impressing: Noah Talbot (backrower) and Jamie Bruce

 

Grammar's second division outfit is also proving a strong contender in this year's U18 competition.

They're mid-table in the 10-team competition, heading into the final round, with coach Urquhart labelling Noah Talbot and Jamie Bruce as two who have stood out from the pack.

"(Talbot) just brings really good aggression around the field," he said.

"Defensively and in attack he's very good on both sides of the ball.

"(Bruce) is just solid player that offers plenty.

"He is good in the air and he's also got a very good skill set. He's got a good catch pass and is a winger so scores a fair few meaties (tries) as well."

 

 

MATTHEW FLINDERS

Players impressing: Nick Gilbert (No. 8), Lachie Stewart (scrumhalf)

 

Siena against Matthew Flinders First XV rugby union match. Matthew Flinders player Nick Gilbert charges into the defence in 2019. Picture: Warren Lynam
Siena against Matthew Flinders First XV rugby union match. Matthew Flinders player Nick Gilbert charges into the defence in 2019. Picture: Warren Lynam

Matthew Flinders is enjoying another solid year in the Garth Hunt Shield, among the top sides vying for schoolboy rugby glory.

They were runners-up in the 2016, 2017, 2018 grand finals.

Rugby co-ordinator Adam Ridgewell has highlighted captain Nick Gilbert and scrumhalf

Lachie Stewart as top performers this year.

"(Gilbert) has been excellent for the leader of quite a young pack and just puts in every single week," he said.

"He just carries the ball with real purpose and plays 15kg heavy than he is and has been very good for us.

"He's not very big, but he plays like a big fella, carries hard and bends the defensive line very well."

Stewart had plenty to offer as well.

"He's been directing his forward pack really well and his communication is excellent," Ridgewell said.

"He's been sniping well from the scrumbase and kicking very astutely."

 

GOOD SHEPHERD LUTHERAN COLLEGE

Players impressing: Levi Herriman (inside centre), Matt Brice (fullback) and Ben Rostron (prop).

 

Good Shepherd Lutheran College First XV players Ben Rostron (front left), Matt Brice is third from the right in the front row, Levi Herriman is standing in back row, fourth from the right end.
Good Shepherd Lutheran College First XV players Ben Rostron (front left), Matt Brice is third from the right in the front row, Levi Herriman is standing in back row, fourth from the right end.

With only three Year 12s in their outfit, Good Shepherd have traversed this year's U18 First XV competition in style.

They're mid-table, with coach and rugby co-ordinator Dave Palmer listing Levi Herriman, Matt Brice and Ben Rostron as some of the squads crucial talents.

The former is just 16.

"He's (Herriman) played rep football last year and is going great at inside centre," Palmer said.

"He can do all the basics but also has a bit of flair about him."

Palmer said Brice was also a "handy" individual.

"He's been making lots of metres from the back and receiving the ball well," he said.

"He's been counter attacking really effectively and is a good solid defender as the last line of defence.

"Matt is also a great communicator and has been marshalling the backline."

Rostron is one of the few Year 12s among this year's squad.

"He hasn't played for a little while but he's come back to the game and is just a real solid ball carrier who works hard all over the field," Palmer said.

"He's a fairly big guy but he's got a good engine on him and gets around the park well.

"Ben does all the things you'd hope a prop would do and is just a real good team player and a great asset."

 

 

JAMES NASH STATE HIGH

Players impressing: Joshua Dean (halfback) and Denim Osrecki (fullback).

 

While James Nash State High, one of two Gympie teams in the Garth Hunt Shield, has endured a tough season there's still been plenty of highlights among the squad.

Rugby co-ordinator Rod Jenkins said Joshua Dean and Denim Osrecki were two who had battled away impressively.

 

James Nash SHS First XV player Josh Dean.
James Nash SHS First XV player Josh Dean.

 

"(Dean) is pretty good defensively and just at organising the play - It's what you're after from a halfback," Jenkins said.

"He's got a little bit of zip off the mark and might go for a little nip and break the line so that's not a bad skill."

 

 

James Nash SHS First XV player Denim Osrecki
James Nash SHS First XV player Denim Osrecki

 

Jenkins said Osrecki was proving a sharp talent in offence.

"He's a fairly good attacking player, particularly in broken play," he said.

"He kicks some through and he usually returns the ball and gets you back over the gain line.

"He is pretty good defensively too and talks to the backs to make sure they know what to do."

 

PACIFIC LUTHERAN COLLEGE

Players impressing: Oliver Frazer (fly half) and Macklin Kirkley (No. 8).

 

Pacific Lutheran has been plugging away in a strong competition this year, placed in the bottom half of the 10-team ladder.

They've got some rising stars, with rugby co-ordinator Josh Cummins quick to shine the spotlight on Oliver Frazer and Macklin Kirkley.

With the league season cancelled, the former has crossed-codes from the Falcons development pathway to get game time and is proving a solid asset.

 

 

Pacific Lutheran College First XV player Oliver Frazer.
Pacific Lutheran College First XV player Oliver Frazer.

"He's (Frazer) tearing it up in this comp," Cummins said.

"He is a strong runner and good offloader and is a really good ball handler as well.

"Ollie is really good at getting players to run off his hip and putting players through holes and having a go himself as well when he's got little bit of space."

Kirkley has been a weapon in the forward pack.

 

Pacific Lutheran College First XV player Macklin Kirkley.
Pacific Lutheran College First XV player Macklin Kirkley.

"He also plays for Caloundra Lighthouses and came up from a Sydney competition last year so he's kind of new to the Sunshine Coast," Cummins said.

"He's just an absolute dominator in the forwards - I've seen him drive back three or four guys in that ruck on his own.

"Macklin is also good at having a go himself as well and has the ball skills of a back but in the forwards."

 

SIENA CATHOLIC COLLEGE

Players impressing: Ethan Akers and Tim Schmidt (inside and outside centres), plus Jordan Dick (N0.8).

 

Siena's 'wolf pack' have again pushed through a strong season in the First XV, among the top three teams vying for the Garth Hunt Shield.

Coach Ken Bolton said Akers and Schmidt were very "committed" and nailed the "one percenters"

 

 

Sunshine Coast First XV school rugby union grand final between Sunshine Coast Grammar and Siena Catholic College at the Sunshine Coast Stadium. Siena's Ethan Akers in 2019. Picture: Warren Lynam
Sunshine Coast First XV school rugby union grand final between Sunshine Coast Grammar and Siena Catholic College at the Sunshine Coast Stadium. Siena's Ethan Akers in 2019. Picture: Warren Lynam

"Ethan is the captain of the side and he leads by example," Bolton said.

"He's a terrific defender and runs the ball really well.

 

"The boys like to follow him and he can change the momentum of the game just simply with his defence, getting up in people's grills and shutting things down.

"Tim's defence has also been superb, and he runs the ball exceptionally well too."

 

 

Siena against Matthew Flinders First XV rugby union match. Siena player Tim Schmidt takes on the defence in 2019. Picture: Warren Lynam
Siena against Matthew Flinders First XV rugby union match. Siena player Tim Schmidt takes on the defence in 2019. Picture: Warren Lynam

Bolton said Dick had been an inspirational talent among the forwards.

"He's a really excellent ball carrier with excellent footwork and is very strong in defence," he said.

"He's, I guess you could call him gangly or lanky, but he's just elusive and his footwork is really good. He always manages to poke through the line and set us up going forward.

"Then in defence, he's quite strong and always really consistent.

"He doesn't miss a tackle.

"The boys take inspiration from that because he's just committed and full on all the time."

 

ST JOHN'S COLLEGE, NAMBOUR

Players impressing: Campbell Portors (flanker), Cooper McMinn (fullback), Jasper Jones (No. 8)

 

St John's College, Nambour, First XV players Jaspa Jones, Campbell Portors, Cooper McMinn.
St John's College, Nambour, First XV players Jaspa Jones, Campbell Portors, Cooper McMinn.

St John's, who are mid-table, are in the midst of a rebuilding phase but boast plenty of young union talent set to drive them forward in year's to come.

Coach Brendan Macaulay listed Campbell Portors, Cooper McMinn and Jasper Jones as teenagers who have hit the ground running in impressive form this season.

"Campbell Portors has been playing with us since Grade 10 and he's a really good player and steady flanker," Macaulay said.

"He's also our captain and does his job really well, he leads the boys around well and at all the breakdowns he's one of the first people there.

"He's stealing and pilfering a lot of ball for us and is just a very well rounded player that makes very few mistakes on field and is very reliable."

Macaulay said fullback McMinn was "electric" in open play.

"He scored a 95m try a couple weeks back from nothing," he said.

"He's just one of those naturally gifted athletes who is pretty new to rugby.

"Cooper has come form an AFL and basketball background. I think it's only his second or third year of rugby but he's just kicking some goals and doing stuff on the field that's really nice to see a young fella back themselves."

Another impressive teen as Jones, who returned to the St John's fold this year.

"We missed Jasper last year, he's sort of our No. 8 and around the paddock he is just a work horse," Macaulay said.

"He just dominates in the lineouts and I don't think we've lost too many lineouts this year and we're winning quite a few of the other team's as well, which is nice."

 

ST PATRICK'S COLLEGE GYMPIE

Players impressing: Sean Hayes (forward) and Seph (Joseph) Morris (No. 8)

 

St Pats has endured a rough season in the U18 competition, bottom of the ladder.

However, their students have been putting in the hard yards, with rugby co-ordinator Patrick Anstock revealing Sean Hayes and Seph Morris as to standouts.

"He's (Hayes) one of the better forwards for us," he said.

"His defence and turnover of ball is (great) and he carries strongly.

"(Morris') work around the ruck is good and he has strong ball carrying and pick and go.

"They've been our standouts."

 

ST TERESA'S CATHOLIC COLLEGE

Players impressing: Leo Langbridge (No. 8), Christian Vidic (Open-side Flanker) and Ethan Pohlner (Scrum-Half).

 

 

St Teresa's Catholic College First XV players Ethan Pohlner, Leo Langbridge and Christian Vidic.
St Teresa's Catholic College First XV players Ethan Pohlner, Leo Langbridge and Christian Vidic.

St Teresa's has enjoyed a big year on the rugby union field, battling among the competitions top sides.

Coach Jourdan Linthorne showered praise on three of his charges - Leo Langbridge, Christian Vidic and Ethan Pohlner - who have proven steadfast talents this campaign.

"While Leo is not always the loudest in the room, his leadership is one of action," he said.

"Leo has a motor that does not feature an off switch. He will be at every breakdown, in every tackle, taking every second or third lead run.

 

 

School rugby, St Teresa's Leo Langbridge. Picture: Patrick Woods
School rugby, St Teresa's Leo Langbridge. Picture: Patrick Woods

 

 

"Leo is very efficient in his technique. Be that body position over ball, defensive take downs, direct lines and he uses his length to generate space in contact. He uses his high rugby IQ and experience for the benefit of all his teammates.

"This year Leo has been asked to step into the honoured role of First XV Captain.

"His big brother and big sister have both been Senior Rugby Captains and it's clear what the playing First XV means to him. Leo is the spiritual leader of the group."

Vidic has also been strong, and is a talent that has earned Queensland Country honours.

"He's worked so hard in the gym over the past two years to get himself physically prepared for senior rugby and it shows. Christian loves contact. Loves it.

"He is one of those bowling-ball-unmovable type players. Incredibly, incredibly strong.

"If we kept the stats he would easily lead the team for tackle breaks and post-contact metres. "His running lines have been phenomenal and he's had to make some long range tries.

"His breakdown work is lock down and I can tell you from the safety of the sideline; I do not want to be tackled by Christian Vidic.

"The young man hits with every shred of force his body will produce.

Coach Linthorne praised the smarts of his scrum-half Pohlner.

"He is one of those players that when he plays his own game, everything seems to move about him in slow motion," he said.

"Having Ethan this year has taken a lot of pressure off our fly-half Lachlan Franklin.

"They work so well in tandem and the side is able to play to our structure with organised efficiency as a result.

"Ethan's understanding of player movement, spatial awareness and rugby nuance makes him a threat from anywhere on the field.

"His kicking game has been a big boon for the side, tactically.

"While only in Year 11, he has more than earned the respect of his Year 12 seniors.

"They understand that he reads the game differently.

"Ethan plays with heart. I've seen him get rolled up in tackle, the ball move the other side of the field and him sprint while limping to get over there."



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