Yow Yeh, McCullough steel QLD U16 for challenge ahead

Utility Reece Walsh has been handed the captaincy of Queensland Under 16s for the showdown with NSW before today's NRL clash between Brisbane and the Warriors at Suncorp Stadium.

Coach Mick Roberts, who played a handful of games for the Brisbane Broncos in 2007, confirmed to QRL Media that the Nerang Roosters star would lead the young Maroons in their 'mini' Origin against the Blues.

Walsh and his teammates were presented with their Queensland jumpers yesterday by Origin representatives Andrew McCullough and Jharal Yow Yeh.

"Those two guys talked about Origin and what it means and the importance of it to the boys," said Roberts.

"Reece took the captaincy honour very well and is the best player for the job.

"He's confident. Part of his strength is that he is a natural leader and players will follow him."

Reece Walsh
Reece Walsh

Walsh, who also plays half, will play in the No.1 jumper today, allowing Henri Stocks to feature at halfback.

A player to watch for Queensland could be electric winger Xavier Savage.

"Xavier is a big body and he is a 100m and 200m Queensland sprint champion and he looks very good," said Roberts.

"We've got a few quick guys out there.

"They'll be a little bit smaller than the NSW lads but that can be a positive for us."

Xavier Savage
Xavier Savage

Roberts said yesterday's captain's run was the best training session since the boys came into camp on Monday and a good way to wrap up to the team's preparations.

"We are looking at this as a mini Origin game, any time you pull on a Queensland jersey it's very important and Jharal has been in camp with us all week making sure every player understands just what it means to wear the jumper."

Young props Wian Joubert and Caleb Evans have a lot of responsibility on their young shoulders to set a platform for their speedy backs to load up the points.

"They probably won't be as big as the NSW front-rowers but they will have that Queensland spirit," said the coach.

"They are both goers and I am looking forward to their battle with the NSW front-row."

Apart from being the coach, Roberts feels an obligation to help educate and improve the players to get them ready for next level.

"That's part of the QAS and QRL programs to these kids to the next phase of their careers," Roberts said.

"But it's an Origin game, it's about winning, getting a result, and turning up for your state."

With all the boys backing up from a four-day State carnival last week, Roberts has tried to manage the players and not overload them, giving them time to recover and be fully prepared for kick-off.

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