NRL clubs raid Queensland schools
THE Brisbane Broncos and four New South Wales-based National Rugby League clubs have raided two of the code's premier schoolboy nurseries.
Wavell State High School and Marsden State High School, which boasts Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith respectively as past students, will each supply three players to the NRL clubs.
The Broncos have snapped up Wavell SHS halfback Joshua James, the Brisbane junior player of the year, and Marsden SHS fullback Tesi Niu who is on tour with the Australian schoolboys.
James' classmates from Wavell, Manase Kaho has been wooed by the Canberra Raiders while Mark Tupoala is off to the powerhouse Sydney Roosters.
Niu's teammates from Marsden, Augustine Stowers will play with South Sydney and Exodus Semau was bound for Parramatta.
The signings of the gun Queensland schoolboys follows hot on the heels of Cronulla luring St Joseph's Nudgee College GPS rugby premiership winner Jangala Bennet to the Sutherland Shire.
Wavell is the school which proudly claims the likes of Inglis, Herman Ese'ese, Kodi Nikorima, Dane Copley, Adam Blair, Darryl Brohman, Ashley Harrison and David Wright, a Maroons forward leader from the 1970s, among many successful league players.
Now the next generation has been picked off.
James recently received the Bob Gillder Trophy junior player of the year trophy from Wayne Smith, father of Queensland legend Cameron Smith, at an awards night.
The halfback represented Queensland schoolboys this year and was also named player of the carnival at the Queensland Secondary Schools Rugby League Championships.
He currently plays with Norths but is a junior from the famous West Mitchelton rugby league production line which includes Michael Hagan, John Ribot, Adrian Lam, Paul "Fatty" Vautin and Shaun Berrigan.
"Josh is a strong defender and has excellent game management skills,'' said Wavell SHS's open coach Jimmy Francis.
"He has the ability to change the course of the game with his very strong kicking game.''
Kaho, a fullback at Wavell, is headed to the Raiders after representing the Queensland schoolboys this year.
"He is quick, elusive and deceptively strong,'' Francis said.
Tupoala, a centre who also plays club league for Norths alongside Kaho, has been signed by the premiership winning Roosters.
"He's a strong runner of the ball who knows how to find the try line and plays with a lot of heart,'' Francis revealed.
Marsden SHS has an honour board which would enable the community to field an old boys team of current players strong enough to make an impact in the NRL, spearheaded by the likes of Cameron Smith, Israel Folua and Jaydn Su'a.
The Broncos have recognised the rich vein of talent by signing two players.
Marsden success coach and rugby league co-ordinator Matthew Hartigan said fullback Niu was such a prodigious talent, the Broncos had already elevated him onto the NRL rookie list.
He said Niu's work ethic was "phenomenal''.
"And across the school community there was never an issue with him,'' he said.
He said South Sydney signing Stowers was the forward of the year in the prestigious NRL School Cup competition.
He said the Rabbitohs would also be getting a well organised young man who had worked hard off the field doing a motor mechanic apprenticeship.
"For us academic comes first and foremost,'' Martigan said.
"If they are focused (like Stowers) off the field, it translates into good performances on the field.
"Having worked with NRL players who have come through, if they have a genuine desire in the classroom, the rugby league takes care of itself.''
Haritgan said in signing Stowers, South Sydney were getting a "dynamic, robust style of front rower''.
"He developed significantly across the year and was probably the form forward across the NRL schoolboy competition,'' Hartigan praised.
Haritgan said the Parramatta bound Exodus Semau was a "dynamic outside back with really good footwork''.