Future Maroons on show

Queensland greats Justin Hodges and Darren Lockyer with sons and Metropolitan North players Carter Hodges and Hugo Lockyer watched the Met East vs Met West game.

The best 10 and 11-year-old rugby league footballers from across Queensland converged on Sullivan Oval Stanthorpe this week for the Vic Jensen Rugby League Invitational carnival.

The competition attracted male and female players from Cairns to the NSW border for five days of competition according to host club president Roger O’Brien.

O’Brien said the Stanthorpe Gremlins were more than happy to host the competition again, previously hosting it more than a decade ago.

He said the football action had been of a very high standard with some very talented young players on show during the five days.

“It’s been a really exciting event for the town, the community and our club,” O’Brien said.

“It’s been a good chance to showcase what we have up here in Stanthorpe as a club, our wonderful facilities. It’s just nice to be part of this Queensland representative school sport.”

There are ten teams representing regions from throughout Queensland including the local team Darling Downs.

“The football has been of a very high standard, its been really good to watch,” he said.

“They’ve had a really good crowd too. There has been a lot of support from the mum’s and dads and it’s been a really good carnival. It’s been respectful and just good footy, they are here for the right reasons.”

He said there were young players with strong rugby league pedigrees among the players.

“We’ve got Darren Lockyer’s son playing in one of the teams and Justin Hodges son is in the same team as well,” O’Brien said.

“It’s just really exciting for the club.

“Each team has a squad of 15 plus managers so there are about 20 per team so that’s 200 before adding the mum’s and dads.

“We hosted about 12 years ago, so we’ve sort of been part of the system before and we always put our hand up for these sort of events just as a club to highlight what we have. We’re very proud of the facilities.”

He said he thought hosting an event like this “certainly played a part in being considered for some of those bigger events like Host Plus Cup games”.

“I reckon if you don’t do this you don’t get those bigger games,” O’Brien said. You’ve got to put yourself out there as a club and we certainly are.”

Even without the chance of hosting bigger games, the club believes this is a chance to watch the future of the game because with sheer weight of numbers there was bound to be future NRL, NRLW and QRL players on display.

“There certainly will be, this is a very talented group,” he said.

After the week of junior representative football the Gremlins will switch back to seniors action this weekend with the men and women’s A grade teams playing Inglewood in the next round of Border Rugby League competition on Saturday.

And even though the main ground has been busy hosting the juniors this week the Gremlin’s senior squads have continued to train, switching to the second oval to take a bit of pressure off Sullivan Oval.

However despite that precaution O’Brien said Sullivan Oval held up well during the carnival.