The Queensland Under 18 side will launch tomorrow’s State of Origin excitement when they play the NSW Blues U18s in the curtain-raiser match at Suncorp Stadium.
Coached by former Maroon Josh Hannay (FOG 139); the young players are learning a lot in the lead-up to the big game.
‘It was a great experience for the young players’ - Josh Hannay
The Under 18 have also enjoyed learning tips from the current crop of Maroons, and took part in an opposed session with the Queensland Origin team on their first day in camp.
“The opposed session against the seniors was not scheduled but it was a great experience for the young players to be exposed to that and it has been extra beneficial,” Hannay said.
The team also were tested by the Under 20 Titans team when they took part in another opposed session against the Gold Coast side.
“We were also very thankful to the Under 20 Titans coach Ben Woolf for going out of their normal routine and we would not have the quality without them coming,” Hannay said.
Cream of the crop
Hannay has been impressed with the talent coming through and the way the players have gelled as a group.
“This group of 17 is a great indication of the quality of players, when looking at the talent that missed the selection,” Hannay said.
“There is great amount of depth in this age group. We have big guys in the middle, speed on the outside and our spine are a creative and well balanced group.
“It is so crucial in these camps, because of the limited time, that the players come together. We have been very fortunate that there is a strong bond which has formed in this group.”
The U18s will have the home-ground advantage and Hannay is enormously proud to now be coaching the up-and-coming players.
“It should be an enormous advantage and a benefit to play at our home ground,” Hannay said.
“It is always tough on the players going interstate and it can be a distraction which can be hard to overcome.
“I am honoured to now be coaching the Under 18s side and feel very privileged to be with the Queensland system.”
* Watch the up-and-coming Maroons in action when the curtain-raiser is streamed live on QRL.com.au