Young talents ready for Schoolboys tour of UK

A month-long tour of the United Kingdom awaits the Australian Schoolboys team who have two Test matches against a talented England Academy side lined up to close a busy year.

The team features three Queensland-based players in Tesi Niu from Marsden State High School and Palm Beach Currumbin pair Tom Dearden and Juwan Compain.

All three players were this month selected in the upcoming Queensland Emerging Origin Under 18s Squad and have also experienced a high level of success already this year.

Both Niu (Souths Logan Magpies) and Dearden (Tweed Heads Seagulls) were in the Queensland Under 18 side this year; with Niu starring for the Magpies on their way to winning the Mal Meninga Cup competition.

Dearden and Compain were part of the NRL Schoolboys Cup winning PBC team, with Dearden being awarded the Peter Sterling Medal after his side claimed the national title.

In the opening few days of camp, Australian Schoolboys team manager Jim Look (Wynnum State High School) spoke to QRL Media and praised the way the boys had embraced the experience so far.

“They are going really well. Tommy ran around a bit today at fullback and cottoned on to what coach needs ... he’s of course a halfback and he looks quite sharp at the moment and I think the coach was very impressed with the way he could get his edge organised," Look said. 

“Juwan is just one of those kids where his game is built on workrate; he just works hard, he’s a smart kid too.

“Credit to (Palm Beach Currumbin coach Aaron) Zimmerle; he’s really switched those kids on. They are footballers, they know how to play football, they are certainly not robotic and can adapt quite quickly.  

“(They are all) very thorough in their preparation; Tesi is probably a little bit more laid back and you sometimes might wonder if he’s going to get the job done; but he’s always on time, anything you ask of him is always done, he does his rehab and does everything asked of him ... so (he’s) going well.

“They are good kids in camp, great kids actually and they are just enjoying it.”

The team spent the first part of the camp based at the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence in Redfern; and departed Sydney for London this afternoon (Tuesday, November 20) and have a full schedule to look forward to.

The tour will see the team play against the England Colleges, Yorkshire Academy and Lancashire Academy sides as they prepare to face their England rivals at Leigh Sports Stadium (December 8) and at Emerald Headingly (December 14).

While they are expecting fantastic hospitality; Look and the coaching staff of Tony Adam and Damien Quinn have warned the players that their English counterparts will be just like any team involved in an Ashes Test and will love more than anything to bring down their Australian rivals.

“One thing about the English is that when you are socially with them; they are all over you – but when you are playing them, they want to kill you,” Look said.

“We are steeling the kids for that already; about a hostile away environment and how you cope with it.

“Just as a bit of fun after each session we do a challenge ... we did a goal kicking one and whoever was doing it; the other 21 kids had to heckle them (like an English crowd would do) – good banter.”

Juwan Compain receives his jersey. Photo: NRL Images
Juwan Compain receives his jersey. Photo: NRL Images

Before they left; the players were involved in an NRL Wellbeing session where they spoke about coping with being away, coping with not making the team and how they can still contribute, sleep management and meditation.

They also had their jerseys presented to them by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga during a visit to the Rugby League Central building.

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England Rugby League are offering a livestream of the matches via their My League service. More information is available at the My League (England Rugby League) website.

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(named after July’s National Championships)