The NRL National Schoolboy Cup will crown a new Queensland state champion with Kirwan State High School travelling from Townsville to face Marsden State High School at Brisbane’s Langlands Park to do battle for the Phil Hall Cup.
Both sides progressed through tough opposition in the semi-finals, with Kirwan State High’s impressive run to the schoolboys final capped off by a terrific semi-final performance against Wavell State High School, overpowering their opposition to come away 28-12 winners last week.
Marsden State High’s finals run was full of attacking intent, which saw them overcome the 2018 state champions Palm Beach Currumbin along the way. Last week’s major 42-18 victory over St Brendan’s Yeppoon was a strong effort to book their place in the grand finals.
Both Kirwan and Marsden have progressed to the finals of this competition twice in the previous three seasons, with Kirwan falling to a Tom Dearden-led Palm Beach in the state final last year.
Marsden High coach Jesse Maclean said his players had overcome some tough opposition in this competition, but the finals presented an even greater challenge.
“We came up against some really terrific sides in this competition, it has been a real physical battle for our players that is going to be a whole new level of tough on the day of the final,” Maclean said.
Both teams are famed in schoolboy’s competition for their large and jovial fanbases, which will no doubt highlight the outstanding atmosphere and contest provided by this schoolboy’ finals series.
Maclean said his players had made their school, their coaches and themselves incredibly proud of their efforts.
“We have made some major adjustments from the first term to now,” Maclean said.
“The effort the boys have put into this year has been absolutely outstanding, we have young players who are turning up every day and training incredibly hard for moments like these and they are a credit to themselves for their work ethic.”
Kirwan trainer Nathan Nordford was equally proud of the efforts of the Kirwan players.
“To make the state final two years in a row is a great achievement, especially from a North Queensland perspective, we have been a powerhouse in North Queensland for a while now, but we want to make it on the big stage as well, so hopefully (the final) is that occasion,” Norford said.
“(The school, the staff and the players) have been working hard, the system we have in place at the school is awesome … as a school, and as a community, they are all supporting the Kirwan Bears.”
Both teams come to the grand final clash having maintained their consistent standards at the highest levels of schoolboy rugby league, which each side credits as a biproduct of their renowned academy structure that breeds consistency.
Maclean said his team would be bringing everything they’ve got to represent and showcase the talent that their local academy has to offer.
“Our young boys often feel like a representative team from the Logan area,” Maclean said.
“Most all of our young players are born and raised in the Logan area, most of the coaching staff are all from Logan, so we have a great connection with this great city and we want more than anything else to go out there and play football to the standards that we have set for ourselves and are expected of a team that comes from Logan.”
Having come so close last year, Norford was hopeful the experience of a number of players would benefit the side this time around.
“I think it will help them a lot, obviously being there before they can learn from what they have done last year and they know a little bit about what to expect,” Norford said.
“As a group, I think our leaders like Brad Schneider, Tareq Parter and Adrian Trevilyan some of these boys have been there for a few years now, they are definitely great leaders within the side and have done really, really well.
“We have some young kids coming through, but I think it’s a well-balanced side, and hopefully that can work in our favour.
“But every year is a new year, and hopefully they can step up to make that next step.”
The schoolboys state finals action kicks off at Langlands Park, Stones Corner on Wednesday, September 11 at 1pm.
The game will be broadcast on delay on FOX Sports at a time yet to be confirmed. More details at the NRL Schoolboys Cup Facebook page.
The winner of the Queensland state final will face off against the NSW winner with the two teams to vie for the NRL Schoolboys Cup national title.