The Queensland Murri Under 16 team enter camp today, with the young side looking to soak in not only the footballing experience, but to celebrate culture and embrace the opportunity as well.
The team was selected from last year’s Junior Queensland Murri Carnival at Redcliffe, and includes players from areas including Townsville and Mackay, and south west Queensland.
The boys will be coached by Intrust Super Cup winning captains - head coach Keiron Lander (Ipswich Jets) and assistant coach Jardine Bobongie (Mackay Cutters); and have an action-packed schedule ahead of them before their game at Mudgee on Saturday.
Lander said there was a few things he hoped players would take away from the week ahead, with the coach emphasising the desire for the squad to learn responsibility, to take opportunities, to show respect for each other and have respectful relationships.
“For a lot of the boys who haven’t been in that sort of professional environment, I want them to take the opportunity to understand what it is like to be a professional when it comes to any sport, particularly our game,” Lander said.
“I expect to them to get a few things wrong and a few things right when it comes to punctuality and preparation and those sorts of things.
“I want to be able to teach young men what it takes to be a professional.
"They all have talent. Talent will only get you so far. I expect them to learn a lot.”
The first day of camp kicks off with players assembling in Brisbane to get to know each other, before posing for head shots and the team photo.
As well as sharpening up their footballing skills, the camp will be filled with learning as well, with players to hear from respected members of the Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander rugby league community, including women’s rugby league representatives Bo de la Cruz and Tallisha Harden.
Their journey to Mudgee to face the young Koori side will include a stopover at the home of the Penrith Panthers on Thursday, where they will tour the facilities of the academy.
While it will be a fantastic experience for the players, Lander is also heeding his own advice and making the most of the opportunity.
“I am really excited – I have been part of this on-and-off for a few years now with Jimmy Stevens and prior to that Sid Domic (both former team coaches) and a few others ... but basically, I am looking to develop young men, not only into good footballers, but into good people,” Lander said.
“The week is enjoyable, we’ll have some fun and they’ll learn a lot – I can’t wait!”
The Queensland Murri Under 16 v NSW Koori Under 16 game will played before the Charity Shield clash between NRL heavyweights South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra on Saturday, March 2 at Glen Willow Oval, Mudgee.
Fans can watch the Queensland Murri Under 16 team in action via the QRL Livestream – details to come.