60 of the best: Schoolboy league’s hottest talent
In the lead-up to the start of this website livestreaming of the Langer and Payne Cups, here are 60 of the best schoolboy rugby league players who have had NRL talent scouts clambering over each other for their snare signatures.
The list also includes players from the Gee Cup, the secondary senior competition to the Langer Cup which is also a tremendous breeder of league talent.
Langer Cup and Payne Cup games can be seen livestreamed on this website.
ALEXANDRA HILLS SHS
The school which produced one of the NRL's latest players, Wests Tigers outside back Reece Hoffman, Alexandra Hills SHS's Gee Cup campaign will be spearheaded by four players. Hard working Cherbourg prospect fullback Glen Fisher, centre Kauri Maera and lock Cooper Hewett have a ready made combination entering the season, having all played together in the Wynnum Seagulls Mal Meninga Cup representative side.
The side will be captained by impressive halfback Jack Morris.
"We are really strong in all of the age groups with great coaches. We have Shaun McRae (ex-NRL coach) in our program and we have outstanding coaches in every age group which is a point of difference,'' said Darren Johnston, the school's rugby league program co-ordinator
Kirwan SHS is a wonderful league breeding ground and 2020 promises to be no exception.
Two players in particular could really light up the Payne Cup.
Jeremiah Nanai represented the under 15 Queensland schoolboys in 2018 where he also earned under 15 Australian Schoolboys Merit team selection in 2018. "Jeremiah was a pivotal cog in the Kirwan High Bears run to the 2019 National Schoolboy Cup glory,'' said Head of Department Dave Ackers. "Two weeks after winning the national schoolboy title in 2019, Jeremiah was named man of the match in the under 16 Queensland City versus Queensland Country representative game after scoring three tries.
"He is a barnstorming edge back rower who leads his team through his actions.''
Contracted to the North Queensland Cowboys, he plans to start a carpentry apprenticeship while juggling his NQ Cowboys commitments in 2021.
The second player of outstanding potential at Kirwan was Tyreece Woods who Ackers said was "an electric and skilful outside back''
"He is very comfortable playing in the centres, fullback and five-eight.''
Woods was also a member of last season's national winning outfit where he was named man of the match in the win over Westfield's Sports High in Sydney.
"He also represented the North Queensland Schoolboys under 18s in 2019.''
Tyreece recently re-signed with the North Queensland Cowboys until the end of 2022 and his goal is to obtain an electrical apprenticeship and pursue his rugby league dreams with the Cowboys.
The old school of the Maroons great Allan Langer, Ipswich SHS will enter the Langer Cup on Wednesday happily carrying the underdog tag - despite going within a whisker of a shock premiership in 2019.
Front and centre will be halfback-dummy half Mason Pintegne, a Queensland 15s and Ipswich Jets player who captained the undefeated Ipswich SHS reserves team last year.
Ilai Tuia will be a 190cm, 108kg prop who played Langer Cup last year as a year 11 student while the Sydney Roosters contracted Evander Tere-Rongotaua will be another who no doubt impresses from centre.
Another key player will be fullback Deijion Leugaimafa who also gathered valuable experience in season 2019 of the Langer Cup.
FOREST LAKE SHS
Forest Lake SHS is an emerging rugby league talent pool with the school staff doing wonders with the rugby league program. Last year Forest Lake SHS won the Broncos Old Boys (Year 7) competition, were runners-up in the Renouf Shield (Year 8) and the DeVere Shield (Year 10) and were semi-finalists in the Gee Shield (Opens). The school is building from the ground up, with the 2018 year 7 boys also Broncos Old Boys finalists.
This season Rene Bagon, a Year 10 prop, was tipped to do well for Forest Lake.
"Rene is a typical full-game prop,'' said school rugby league co-ordinator Billy Vine.
"Rene has enormous potential as he grows in to his already big frame. Rene's biggest strengths are work rate and post-contact metres.''
On the other side of the size scale is halfback Brandon Tikinau.
The year 9 student was described by Vine as "meticulous with his technique both with and with out the ball''. "He is very skilful and possesses a strong kicking game,'' Vine praised.
Henri Stocks, Tyrese Parter and Arthur Miller-Stephens were the leaders of the pack out of Mackay SHS
Henri, a Queensland under 16 Origin 2018 player, "is a true leader on and off the field,'' praised rugby league co-ordinator Rowan Graham "He is a natural play maker in the halves with great vision for the game.''
"He is an attacking threat with ball in hand and has great footwork and speed.''
Graham also praised Stocks' kicking game as "accurate and effective''. He will continue to impress both on and off the field in years to come.
Graham said Tyrese Parter was also a naturally gifted athlete an outside back.
"Any opponent will have their hands full trying to contain his turn of speed, size and strength. He is an instinctive hole runner and is more than capable in defence.
"Tyrese has a bright future in the game and will only continue to develop into a formidable player for years to come.
"He will continue to attract attention with his on field efforts. Tyrese could be classified as the 'X-factor' in just about any team he plays in.''
Graham said outside back Arthur Miller-Stephens: was an "elusive runner of the ball with great footwork and speed''.
"He is a threat from the fullback position especially on kick returns. His rugby league ability is clearly evident and has seen him rewarded with a number of representative selections in the past few seasons.
"Arthur has recently played for the Queensland Murri under 15 side and more recently selected in the Queensland Country under 16 side. Arthur is a player to watch in the coming years.''
REDCLIFFE STATE HIGH SCHOOL
The Redcliffe Peninsula is a wonderful breeding ground of rugby league talent and this season promises to be no different.
Leading the Redcliffe SHS into the fray during the Gee Cup will be front rower Matthew Bennett, backrower Braith Major and clever halves Jonathan Maller and Corey Herdegen.
KEEBRA PARK SHS
Keebra Park SHS, a school which has NRL elite players Payne Haas, Jai Arrow, Benji Marshall, David Fifita and Moeaki Fotuaika as past students, will again be full of talent during the Langer Cup campaign which starts against Wavell SHS on Wednesday at Southport.
Throw in hooker utility Lachlan Adamson, a no nonsense player signed by the Bulldogs, along with Brisbane Broncos signing Blake Mozer and Keebra will be very strong in the Langer Cup.
Rugby league stronghold Wavell SHS will be fielding a younger, more inexperienced Langer Cup side in 2020, but the group will be no less talented.
Jaedon Lavea, a dynamic ball-playing middle who enrolled from New Zealand at the beginning of this year, was humble in nature but a powerhouse on the field. Jaedon captained the Kiwis under 16 team in 2019.
Junior Taungatua is a year 11 back rower on the move who comes out of the Queensland under 15 schoolboy representative ranks.
Jimmy Francis, Head of Sporting Excellence, said Junior was a "dynamic runner, strong, with good footwork''. "He has impressed coaching staff with his commitment and work ethic,'' Francis said.
Year 11 student Prinston Esera made debut last year against Keebra Park and was a powerful centre. "He has impressed in the off-season with his work ethic and leadership,'' Francis said.
Isaiah Iongi was a half-fullback who was a strong defender with good footwork.
PALM BEACH CURRUMBIN SHS
PBC coach and past student Brad Davis said Xavier Willison was a talent to watch in 2020 with a strong carry and deft offloading ability''. "He has a great motor and can play big minutes with t"he ability to influence the result of the game,'' Davis praised.
Powerhouse centre Xavier Savage is brunt strength and all pace who won the 100m at the Queensland Junior Athletics Championships in 2018 and is a former GPS sprint champion. "Xavier has an amazing ability to beat defenders and create opportunities out of nothing,'' Davis said of the Cairns product.
Centre Damon Somerville was a strongly built outside back with excellent tackle breaking ability which makes him difficult to defend while Ryan Rivett was a "big bodied playmaker who displays great control and organisation of his team''. "He also possesses a skilful kicking game,'' Davis said.
Marsden centre Tony Francis will be a go-to man based on his form at the back end of 2019. "After a big pre-season working between Marsden, Broncos and Wynnum Manly, Tony started the year in fine form proving to be a walking highlight reel in the pre-season tour to Sydney against the West Tigers under 18s,'' said Marsden SHS coach Jesse Maclean.
"A fit and strong Tony Francis has shown glimpses of strong leadership, growing into an integral senior leader within the Marsden SHS open rugby league team.
"This year shapes up to be a big year for Tony with opportunities arising both on and off field throughout the year,'' he said of Francis, who has been signed by the Broncos.
Maclean said fullback Jodeci Baker was a "lightning quick Cowboys contracted player who has boomed since enrolling at Marsden in 2019''.
"Jodeci has worked hard in the gym to put on size to his frame, as well as his long passing game - which adds to his already dangerous skill set.
"Blessed with backyard footy instincts and a hunger to compete at every opportunity, Jodeci has been an instant hit among his peers and the coaching staff,'' Maclean said.
Lock Kienan Tempest was someone who played well above his weight physically and is one of the hitters of the Marsden side.
"His aggression matches our style very well and his discipline is second to none,'' Maclean said.
"Kienan also has a real footy brain in attack with soft hands and deft late footwork.
"His off field demeanour is at polar opposite with the way he approaches football on field. "Similar to Tony Francis, Kienan is in great shape following his pre-season with Marsden, Broncos and Wynnum Manly.''
Maclean said Terry Lafoai, an emerging young prop, made his opens debut last year from year 10 in the SEQ semi-final victory against PBC. "Terry made an instant impact, and although he plays underweight in the middle compared to the size of rival schools, it does not hold him back,'' Maclean said.
ST MARY'S COLLEGE
St Mary's Toowoomba is a wonderful nursery which produced the likes of Tom Gorman, the Walker brothers and the great Johnathan Thurston, and now the next generation is being ushered in. Brayden Paix, Shaun Packer, Xavier Va'a and Blake Cesari all played out of their age groups when blooded in the Langer Cup last season, but with that experience under their belt, and another year of growth behind them, the foursome were set to make a bigger impact in 2020.
ST PATRICK'S MACKAY
St Pat's sports co-ordinator Chad Buckby said an array of talent had come through the college this year.
"Toby Thorburn has very good service out of dummy half who has very good vision and picks his time to run well always creating opportunities,'' he said.
"He is defensively very strong for a smaller body who doesn't mind mixing it the bigger bodies,'' Buckby said.
Backrower Paul Bryan was a "big body with some very sharp footwork who can player either front row or out wider as a second rower''.
"Very strong ball carrier who always seems to find his front. He can put a shot on in defence and has a big engine pumping out plenty of minutes,'' was how Buckby described Bryan.
Ethan Sweet was another backrower who tends to find himself in the right place at the right time.
"He runs a good line and is tireless in attack and defence,'' Buckby said. "He does a lot of the rubbish work in defence and has some ball playing in him too.''
Another excellent forward was Ethan Cocco who Buckby said was "a strong ball runner who can sting in defence'' while half Blake Kynaston was good at leading the team around.
"Blake is not afraid to take the ball to the line or get his body in front. He has a wonderful kicking game kicked six 40/20s at Confraternity Shield last year.''
Out of the Shalom College nursery in Bundaberg will come halfback Brendan Grills.
Although slight of frame, he was a quick thinker and is always looking to attack.
"He creates space well, but moves into the line with aggressing using a left foot step,'' said
Neil Feather, rugby league co-Ordinator
"He usually turns a half break into a full one with good pace through the line. He scored in each of our seven games this season, one against St Brendan's college was for over 70m.''
Centre Connor Black was part of Shalom's leadership group who tended to lead with actions more than words.
"He is a player that loves to tackle and possesses very good technique for a student level athlete,'' Feather said.
"Coming through the junior ranks as a lock, his transition to the centres was made to enable him to use his speed and line running ability on an edge; he is very difficult to gain control of, if only making contact with arms in a tackle.''
Another eye-catching talent was prop Chelson Diggins.
"Chelson is the shortest player on our team, but also the most powerful, aggressive and energetic,'' Feather said.
"He can play the full 70 minutes in the front row with his first run as energetic as his last. He is a great motivator to his teammates and always leads the way from the front.''