Whether it be from the team, or from an individual, Round 8 in the Central Highlands Junior Rugby League competition was all about champion efforts.
The Emerald Brothers Under 16 had it all against them on the weekend. They lost their captain, Toby Walker last week to a serious knee injury that will see him watching from the bench for some time, then in the first half of their round 8 game against the Peak Downs Pirates, their fullback Will Kleinschaffer was taken to the hospital concussed following a head clash with a fellow team member. Brothers spokesperson, Steve Pyle said it was a tough game. "Losing the structure to their back line meant that it was always going to be tough. It was very physical, and even though the Brothers went down by a narrow margin, it was a great game to watch."
Players who stood up in particular were Will Paki, Blake Pyle and Max Marshall. "They lost their captain, they lost their potency from the backline , they lost direction at times, but they still did well against a very strong Peak Downs side."
Over in Blackwater, club spokesman Pat Rogers acknowledged the champion efforts and sportsmanship shown by the opposition coaches. Rogers coaches the Under 14 side which has struggled for numbers. "There are only about 11 players on the books. But each week, the opposition coaches have allowed some of their bench players to come across and play for us. This has meant our kids are getting to play, and even though the score isn't in their favour, our boys still have enthusiasm and are turning up for training."
The downturn in local mining industry has seen rugby league numbers dwindle across the highlands. "We are very appreciative of the visiting clubs for being so generous with their players. It has meant a lot to us. " Rogers also acknowledged the CH Under 13 coaches, Damian Cavanagh and Justin Howard. "I just want to thank them for being generous with their time. They gave me the chance to watch and learn their coaching techniques which has been invaluable for our club."
Across in Dysart, it was the referee of the Under 10s and Under 12s who put in a champion effort. Tigers President Craig Barsby was glowing in his praise for local Dysart referee, 'Buddha'. "He has a great manner with the kids." Barsby said. The players also commented that he provided guidance and treated them with respect. "This is exactly what I think builds our younger players into respectful young men. "
At one stage, Buddha was questioned by the players about a pressure kick. He was unsure about the rule so told the players he would check at the next break and let them know. The boys went on playing and focusing on the game. At the next break he let both the teams know the rule and everyone was happy with the outcome.
"I think Buddha is probably one of the best referees I have seen in all the years’ I’ve been involved with Junior footy."
There are no regular competition games this weekend, with players from Rockhampton, Gladstone and everywhere in between converging on Emerald for the Under 13s, 14s and 16s Central Queensland trials.