Aussie honours for teen
JACOB Van Zanden's touch game has gone to a new level after he was selected in the under-17 Australian squad.
The honour comes after the 17-year-old has been playing for Queensland for the past year.
The teen is taking it all in his stride, though, and said he is in the game because he loves it.
"I love that it's really competitive and it's tough depending what level you're playing at," he said.
"I just enjoy it, it's a lot of fun meeting new people and playing with others as well."
As part of his responsibilities for the Australian squad, Van Zanden attended a training camp last weekend in Sydney.
"I got to watch and learn from other coaches because I was injured and not allowed to train," he said.
"I enjoyed it and learnt a lot from the coaches there even though I didn't train. It was good meeting the other boys from New South Wales that are in the squad."
The selection in the squad is a bit of a dream come true for Van Zanden who has been playing touch since he was nine years old.
"I'm pretty stoked about it, I never thought I'd get this far in touch and I don't think I ever would've if I didn't play touch in Rocky because that's where I've learnt everything from my coaches out there," he said.
"I owe them a lot.
"I want to keep playing touch footy because I love it.
"I want to go as far as I can with it, hopefully, and just try to do my best as well."
The Australian team will play in New Zealand and the side will be named in September after the last carnival has been played.
"I'll go to the Sunshine Coast and play for Queensland and they'll pick it after that carnival," he said.
"They went to all the carnivals last year and this year, it will mainly be at the Sunshine Coast and Coffs Harbour this year where they'll pick the boys.
"I'd like to make the team. They just select you on form."
Van Zanden was confident he had done enough to earn a spot in the team.
"I'm pretty happy with that and I just need to prove my spot in the team after Sunshine Coast," he said.
Jacob has already played in New Zealand having travelled there earlier this year to play for the Queensland team.