The strength of the Gold Coast Titans’ junior development pathways has been highlighted at the Queensland Rugby League selection table, with another seven of the club’s rising stars selected for junior representative honours with the Maroons over the weekend.
Following on from Jai Arrow’s selection for Queensland in the State of Origin series opener at Suncorp Stadium on 5 June, four Titans-contracted players have been chosen for the Queensland Under-18 team that will play the Origin curtain-raiser against NSW.
Juwan Compain and Carsil Vaikai (Tweed Seagulls) and Alofiana Khan-Pereira and Tristan Powell (Burleigh Bears) were all selected in a strong Queensland Under-18 team to be coached by Kurt Richards.
The Titans Elite Development System (TEDS) also enjoyed fantastic results at the Queensland Schoolboys State Championships in Roma, with a further three Titans selected for the Queensland Schoolboys team: Prop Solomon Torrens, centre Caleb Hodges and hooker Ediq Ambrosyev.
Torrens’ selection capped a wonderful weekend, where he was named as the player of the tournament.
Torrens, Hodges, and Ambrosyev were teammates of Compain and captain Vaikai in the Tweed Seagulls team that won the Mal Meninga Cup final against Wynnum Manly, and then the national under-18 title against the Illawarra Steelers.
The selection of the seven Maroons comes after another five junior Titans were selected for Queensland Under-15 teams in the upcoming National Championships to be held at Redcliffe from 30 June.
Nick Hilton and Joseph Shannon were selected for the Queensland Maroon team, while Kobie Mackey Taylor, Te Haeta Takamore and Josiah Pahulu were selected for Queensland White.
Across the border, four members of the Northern Rivers Titans Under-16 team that won the Andrew Johns Cup were last week selected to play for the NSW Under-16 team in a team that will play against a Pasifika selection team at Belmore Sports Ground on 9 June.
Oskar Bryant, Ryan Foran, Reef Sommerville and Thomas Weaver were the Titans picked for the Baby Blues, capping an already successful season.
TEDS Manager Jamie McCormack said the success of so many junior Titans being selected in junior representative sides was a tremendous show of strength for the Titans’ development and pathways programs.
“It is a huge opportunity to play as a curtain-raiser to the State of Origin game, and to represent Queensland against NSW,” McCormack said. “From our point of view, it is another awesome development opportunity for these guys to be tested at another higher level.
“It is good to see some reward for these guys and the hard work they are putting in.
“Making these representative teams are not the be all and end all at this age. We have seen so many times over the years guys that have missed out on junior rep teams that go on to have successful careers in the NRL.
“But it is a good reward for the program, and everyone in and around their network that these kids are being acknowledged.
“They have all got a few more steps to go before they get to where we want them to be, but certainly it is good to see them getting rewarded with rep selection.
“Recognition like this means so much because of the confidence they take away from it, and also because they get tested at a higher level of footy.
“Hopefully out of the experience they come back with a lot more confidence and the ability to compete at a higher level, and then we can push them to another level again whether that is local A-grade or hopefully Queensland Cup debuts, and then preparing them for the NRL.”
McCormack said the high numbers of Titans in the representative teams showed the club’s future was in good hands.
“The Queensland Under-16s don’t get named for another month or two, so hopefully again, we might have a couple more in there as well,” McCormack said.
“To have so many players in our system selected in rep teams in that under-18 bracket is a great result. It could have been even more, but we had a couple of guys injured during the Schoolboys carnival that would have been a genuine chance of selection as well.
“The pathway is here at the Titans. The benefit for the club is that these are the kids that we can build a future around.
“They have all recently resigned with the club, and that is driven out of loyalty. The kids and their parents are grateful for the opportunity they have been given, they get well looked after and they can see the results of their development.
“So they all have a great loyalty towards the Titans, and they will be the ones that will carry the club forward in the future.”