Mini Maroons is the weekly round-up of the amazing things kids are doing in community rugby league.
This week we are celebrating the camaraderie shown at the Jason Hetherington Gary Larson Cup in Gladstone over the weekend, with teams from across Queensland taking part in record numbers.
QRL South East
It was never going to take long for electric Queensland Maroons winger Selwyn Cobbo to inspire the kids of the Sunshine State, following his red-hot form in 2022.
And at the Jason Hetherington Gary Larson (JHGL) Cup over the weekend, it was Burpengary Jets fullback Elias Duncan who started to draw comparisons to the Brisbane Broncos flyer.
Labelled Elias 'Selwyn Cobbo' Duncan on the Jets’ Facebook page after picking up player of the match against the Fitzroy Sharks, coach Brad Lord said he earned the nickname thanks to his fancy footwork.
“He played well in every game,” Lord said of Elias.
“He’s quick on his feet and was playing fullback, catching the ball on the run, and making metres every time he ran it back.
“It was the team manager who nicknamed him 'Cobbo'. Elias loved it. He’s a bit of character so he loved every minute of it. He had the time of his life.”
And while Elias and his teammates put in some memorable performances on the field – going from strength-to-strength in each game – they were recognised across the carnival for their sportsmanship and off-field attitude.
Four other clubs reached out to congratulate Burpengary on the respect their under 12 players showed across the weekend, with the Noosa Pirates even inviting them to a function in coming weeks.
“We got a lot of feedback from other clubs for our sportsmanship,” Lord said.
“We were camped on the hill in between games and we’d cheer on other teams, make tunnels for them as they ran on the field… we played touch with other teams and the boys made some friends.
“As a coach, you have to be prouder of that than what’s on the field.”
Main image: Burpengary Jets with Moranbah Miners.
Jacob Young may be one of the smallest kids on the field, but he’s always one of the bravest.
The Noosa Pirates under 12s first receiver/halfback received not one, but two player of the match awards at the JHGL Cup, with Moranbah Miners and Past Brothers Gladstone both acknowledging the efforts of the 11-year-old.
Coach Angus Stewart said Jacob was his team’s captain for a reason and it was not hard to understand why other clubs would see that talent.
“Jacob is one of our smallest guys and is our captain. He’s a leader and leads from example. He is small but has no fear at all,” Stewart said.
“Those awards are a great thing throughout the whole tournament as it is the team they play against that gives them an award. Two games in a row the opposing team chose Jacob.
“They would have seen his level of skill for his age, his football IQ and his general toughness. He’s always in there and having a go.
“It’s great for his teammates to see what he can do. He leads by action more than words.”
Stewart said overall the JHGL Cup was an important experience for all of his players.
“We were definitely one of the smaller teams there so it was a bit of a challenge but everyone thoroughly enjoyed it and the team got better and better as the tournament went on,” Stewart said.
“It was a really great chance for the guys to come together.”
Moranbah Miners under 12s coach Vance Domin wanted to achieve two things from the JHGL Cup.
The first, that his players came together and displayed true team work.
The second, that they sent one of their longest-serving players, Lexie McGilvray, out on a high.
Domin, who coaches two under 12s teams for the Miners, took away a group of those who were able to make the 14 hour-round trip to Gladstone for the carnival and left greatly impressed by how his kids, including son Bailey, came together.
“I was proud to see them playing for each other,” Domin said.
“There were a couple teams in our pool with some pretty big kids and they all chipped in, two to three in a tackle, they were in there for each other.
“I have been coaching them patience and simple footy and getting there for each other. It’s a team sport, not individual.
“We’re a one team town – we train together, we play together, so the bond is there. You don’t have to have the biggest kids but if you play for each other, that’s what matters.”
Domin also said it was the first carnival he had been to where every player kept going for the entire JHGL Cup, no matter how tired they were.
It was also a chance for the team to celebrate their final carnival with Lexie, who won’t be able to play with the boys beyond under 12s.
“A lot of the kids – a core group of six or seven – have played together since under 6s and one is a girl so it was about celebrating her last carnival with the boys,” Domin said.
“She does go her different way next year. I made her captain to run out for each of the games and she was in the middle of the huddle for the team songs.
“My son is close with her. It was good for her to go out the way we did.
“I’m pretty blessed I have a talented squad of kids… we have got a very good network and support with the families.
“Everyone was there for each other and it was really, really good. That’s what it’s all about.”