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The 2024 Harvey Norman Under 19 and Cyril Connell Cup weapons

The votes are in for this year’s Harvey Norman Under 19 and Cyril Connell Cup weapons, with a grand finalist and a young up-and-comer taking out the honours.

In the Harvey Norman Under 19 fan vote, it was grand final-bound centre Relna Hosea who was crowned weapon of the year for an explosive Round 1 performance against the Redcliffe Dolphins.

And in the Cyril Connell Cup fan vote, Burleigh Bears centre Caleb Cresswell enjoyed a groundswell of support for his Round 7 effort against the Tweed Seagulls, where he scored four tries against his old club.

Hosea, who will this Saturday play in the history-making inaugural Harvey Norman Under 19 premiership decider, earned a stunning 50 per cent of the vote, with 8828 submissions made.

In second was Western Clydesdales forward Libby Dunn (18 per cent) and in third was Redcliffe young gun Deleni Paitai (14 per cent), who is named in the Queensland Under 17 City squad for this weekend.

Hosea – a standout for the Queensland Sapphires at this year’s Women’s National Championships – is from Badu Island in the Torres Strait and started playing rugby league at the age of 10 with the Mulga Tigers.

Relna Hosea.
Relna Hosea.

She moved to Ipswich Girls Grammar in grade seven and signed up with Ipswich Brothers to stay in footy circles, which eventually led to her joining the Ipswich Jets for season 2023 of the Harvey Norman Under 19s.

This year she has joined the Tigers and continued to flourish.

Coach Damien Pratt said Hosea had been key to the Tigers’ premiership push this season.

“She’s just one of those naturally gifted players who is athletic, very strong, very fast,” he said.

“She brings all the energy, enthusiasm, effort. Everybody wants to play with her. The girls in our squad, when they look at her when she’s lining up, they feel comfortable.

“She got another three tries on Saturday (in the semi-final) against Tweed, who are up there with the best teams in our pool or even our comp.

“She’s definitely consistent with the way she plays and that was reflected in the Sapphires team she was picked for. She scored the most tries that weekend.

“She really marks herself hard. I correspond with her quite a bit after games and she has a bar where she wants to be achieving above that.”

What a weapon: Relna Hosea

Hosea earned her original “weapon” title for her Round 1 performance, in which she ran in a hat-trick and also amassed 159 run metres against the Dolphins, registering three tackle breaks and three line breaks.

Across her time in rugby league, Hosea has also been part of a number of representative teams, including the Peninsula Under 10-12 team, the Met West side from ages 14 to 18, the Queensland City Under 17s and Queensland Under 18s Schoolgirls.

Now she will add a grand final appearance against the Mackay Cutters to her long list of achievements.

Pratt said he doesn’t want her to change anything ahead of Saturday.

“I want to see her score six tries so we can win this bloody thing,” he laughed.

“But no, I just want her to be Relna. If she’s Relna on Saturday, we go a long way towards winning this thing.

“She’s worked really hard on her game this year and is really good to coach. She listens to the advice and that’s how she’s evolved.”

In the Cyril Connell Cup vote, Cresswell received a lot of late votes to pip his opponents at the post with 52 per cent of the vote from 31,960 submissions.

Redcliffe forward Charlie Dickson – who will play in the Cyril Connell Cup grand final on Saturday – came in second with 39 per cent of the vote while Western Clydesdales forward Shaun Elara – selected for Queensland Under 17 Country – was third with six per cent of the vote.

Cresswell’s Round 7 performance saw him score a stunning four tries against the Tweed Seagulls, who he played for in last year’s Cyril Connell Challenge.

It was the only Cyril Connell Cup match the Beaudesert junior played this year but his coach, Ryan Gundry, said it showed why he deserved his spot.

What a weapon: Caleb Cresswell

The Bears just missed the Cyril Connell Cup finals but Gundry said Cresswell – who is a half but played centre – would have definitely earned more game time had they progressed.

“He came down (from Beaudesert) into the position we had most depth in, which was the halves,” Gundry said.

“With his enthusiasm and willingness to train hard, he gave us no option bar to play him in that last round, with the view we would hopefully make the finals.

“Obviously results didn’t go our way and he only got the opportunity to play that one game. But in that game he brought enthusiasm, hunger, desire and an infectious attitude that I think rubbed off on everybody.

“We thought that with the attributes he had with his speed and running game and defence and communication, it would be well-served in that position for that game.

“He did deliver what we needed. We’d come off a poor performance the week before and we needed to get back on track quickly and we identified him as someone who could put us on the pathway.”

Gundry said he is someone they had their eye on for a while after he played five Cyril Connell Challenge games with Tweed in 2023.

Cresswell, who is 17, will now graduate from Cyril Connell Cup and will look to move into Mal Meninga Cup next year.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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