UNDER-16 Queensland Rugby League rep Blaise Hartley made big impressions at the Qld versus New South Wales Country game in Bundaberg at the weekend as the Central Highlands’ sole representative in Maroons’ colours.
Running on as starting lock, the Emerald Brothers player took plenty to the table for selectors in what has been a massive few weeks of football for him.
After playing a number of representative games with the Central Highlands’ side, Hartley was then selected for the Capricorn Capras and thrown straight into a week-long training camp in Rockhampton.
Outstanding with the Capras, Hartley was selected from a field of well-drilled south Qld opposition for his first crack at state level.
His Brisbane-based Maroons coach, Adrian Suttie, said the youngster took the rep honour all in his stride.
“He’s hard as a rock and quiet as mouse with a real no-nonsense approach which I really liked,” Suttie said.
“He took the ball forward and did nothing wrong and I think really grew as a player.”
Hartley described the opportunity to play with Qld as a huge learning curve in terms of game strategy, physicality and discipline.
He said pride in wearing the Qld colours was drummed into the boys and by the end of it they were primed and ready for a big encounter.
Having hit the limit for his rugby league representation with state level being the furthest he can progress in his current age group, aspiring Hartley wasn’t finished yet.
The following weekend he tightened the laces for a shot at a different representative code - the Country Rugby Union Muster in Tieri last weekend.
Again he blitzed the competition and was named in the under-17 Country Bushrangers squad competing at the state carnival in September. (See story page 37.)
Capras U16 manager Brad Eggmolosse, from Gladstone, said while Hartley was always a very strong player with good leadership potential, he seemed to have turned it up a notch this year.
“He’s always done well at the Central Queensland level but this is the best I’ve seen Blaise play so far,” Eggmolosse said.
“He’s definitely the most consistent player, very easy to coach - you don’t have to chip him about anything.”
Much of Hartley’s success he credits to the Central Highlands Junior Rugby League under-15 development program created in 2009 as a proving ground for local players.
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