Who will be the Players to Watch when the Cyril Connell Challenge and Mal Meninga Cup this season?
Who will be the Players to Watch when the Cyril Connell Challenge and Mal Meninga Cup this season?

Players to Watch: Mal Meninga, Connell Cups

They are junior rugby league competitions which provide a stepping stone into the big league, and a vital link in the future of Queensland State of Origin success.

The Cyril Connell Challenge and Mal Meninga Cup start again on Saturday and Sunday.

The Connell Challenge is named after one of rugby league's gentlemen, former Queensland (24 matches) and Australian (two Tests) halfback Cyril Connell who became Wayne Bennett's recruitment ace at the Brisbane Broncos.

A schoolteacher, Connell used his state wide contacts to establish observations on promising schoolboy talent.

He left no stone unturned and once drove so far into western Queensland, that if he had missed the letter box to the homestead he was going to, he would have ended up in the desert.

The Meninga Cup is of course named after Mal Meninga.

A statue at Suncorp Stadium also reminds folk of his grandeur as a player, a blockbusting centre who, out of Bundaberg, played for the Queensland under 18s in 1977 and then came to the Darra police Academy.

From there he played for Souths in the 1979 grand final before embarking on a stunning career with Souths, the Canberra Raiders, Queensland and Australia.

It is appropriate such important junior pathways are named after two such respected men.

Connell and Meninga are giants of the past, so who are the players of the future, the Players to Watch in this season's competition.

From Jets rookie Tyler Peckham-Harris to powerhouse Isac Fa'asuamaleai at the Bears, exciting Norths prop Xaiver Willison and the elusive Selwyn Cobb at Wynnum, the competitions are full of thrilling prospects.

Also, watch out for double trouble at the Redcliffe Dolphins, with twins Kini and Lingi Kepu taking on all-comers, while Norths have Poasi Manu, brother of NRL powerhouse Sika, and Zak McGuire, Josh's brother.

 

NOTE: The couriermail.com.au's first report on the Meninga Cup and Connell Challenge will be on Sunday night following the Norths versus Wynnum Manly Seagulls clashes at Bishop Park, and will appear of a Sunday early evening regularly throughout the season.

 

Langer Cup: Keebra Park SHS celebrate after Tuvalli Khan-Pereira crosses over the line in the match against Marsden SHS at Southport Tigers home ground Owen Park on Wednesday. Picture: Jerad Williams
Langer Cup: Keebra Park SHS celebrate after Tuvalli Khan-Pereira crosses over the line in the match against Marsden SHS at Southport Tigers home ground Owen Park on Wednesday. Picture: Jerad Williams

BURLEIGH BEARS

HASTINGS DEERING COLTS

Col Geyer (hooker)

Isac Fa'asuamaleai (front row)

Will Evans (centre)

Izaya Leota (outside back)

MAL MENINGA CUP

Arama Hau (middle forward)

Seth Nikotemo (backrower)

Jye Gray (halfback)

Tuvalli Khan- Pereira (outside back)

CONNELL CHALLENGE

Bailey McConnell (Halfback)

Isaiah Fagalilo (Hooker)

Phillip Hakaria-Ngamotu (Second row)

 

U17 Development Competition Grand Final between Norths Gold Vs Fassifern Bombers at North Ipswich Reserve. Norths player Jordan Carriera.
U17 Development Competition Grand Final between Norths Gold Vs Fassifern Bombers at North Ipswich Reserve. Norths player Jordan Carriera.

IPSWICH JETS

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Jordan Carriera (centre)

Lachlon Turnbull (hooker)

Wilson Malaesilia (Second Row)

Ezekiel Figota (front row)

MENINGA CUP

Zac Alley (hooker)

Xavier Stowers (prop).

CONNELL CHALLENGE

Matua Brown (fullback)

Orlando Metuariki (five-Eighth)

Tyler Peckham-Harris (halfback)

Larry Siala (front row)

Kohen Briggs (centre)

 

Will Parslow in the QRL Under 18 Mal Meninga Cup game between Redcliffe Dolphins and Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Redcliffe, Saturday, February 29, 2020 (AAP Image/Richard Walker)
Will Parslow in the QRL Under 18 Mal Meninga Cup game between Redcliffe Dolphins and Wynnum Manly Seagulls at Redcliffe, Saturday, February 29, 2020 (AAP Image/Richard Walker)

WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Harrison Graham (Hooker)

Devontai Seumanutafa (front row)

Will Parslow (halfback)

Selwyn Cobb (fullback)

 

Capras U20's Cooper Marshall.
Capras U20's Cooper Marshall.

THE CAPRAS

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Cooper Marshall

Myles Gal

Lachlan Hubner

MAL MENINGA CUP

Jai Hansen

Payton Jenkins

Coby Williamson

 

Kirwan State High School defeated St Patrick's College 26-0 in their Aaron Payne Cup encounter at Leprechaun Park in Mackay. St Pat's Ethan Sweet runs the ball. Photo: Callum Dick
Kirwan State High School defeated St Patrick's College 26-0 in their Aaron Payne Cup encounter at Leprechaun Park in Mackay. St Pat's Ethan Sweet runs the ball. Photo: Callum Dick

MACKAY CUTTERS

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Dan Kelly (Hooker/half)

Ethan Borg (prop).

MAL MENINGA CUP

Luke Pietzner (fullback)

Ethan Sweet (backrow)

 

 

CONNELL CHALLENGE

Luke Pietzner (fullback)

Ethan Sweet (second row)

Ethan Cocco (lock)

Asher O'Donnell (front row)

Paul Bryan (front row)

Arthur Miller-Stephens (centre)

Footnote: Keep a watch on halfback Tom Irelandes and winger Josh Smith playing up in age group.

 

Chris Faagutu, Marsden tackled by Thomas McGahn, St Mary's. St Mary's College vs Marsden State High School in the Langer Cup. Wednesday, 29th Jul, 2020.
Chris Faagutu, Marsden tackled by Thomas McGahn, St Mary's. St Mary's College vs Marsden State High School in the Langer Cup. Wednesday, 29th Jul, 2020.

SOUTHS LOGAN

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Creedance Toia

Cruise Ten

Billy Mozer

Ezra Teulia

Rixson Andrew

MAL MENINGA CUP

Ezra Mam

Sione Fotuaika

Vincent Sefo

Chris Faagutu

 

Palm Beach Currumbin's Tom Weaver at training.. Picture Glenn Hampson
Palm Beach Currumbin's Tom Weaver at training.. Picture Glenn Hampson

TWEED HEADS

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Charlie Murray,

Glenn McGrady

Ben Liyou

MENINGA CUP

Tom Weaver

Blake Mozer

Jaylan de Groot

 

The Falcons Kaleb Sutton,18.
The Falcons Kaleb Sutton,18.

SUNSHINE COAST FALCON

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Kaleb Sutton

Blake Wilson

Jayden Zanchetta

Lucas Bell

MAL MENINGA CUP

Jesse Page

Oscar Boyd

Mitch Jennings

Jack Underhill

CONNELL CHALLENGE

Brock Thomas

Zac Herdgen

Cody Rowe

Jai Bowden

Zac Garton

Hayden Gallgher

 

Sunshine Coast junior Zac Lamont will plat with the Brisbane Tigers (Easts)
Sunshine Coast junior Zac Lamont will plat with the Brisbane Tigers (Easts)

BRISBANE TIGERS

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Joe Gilmore (Front Row)

Simon Pratt (Backrow).

Haele Finau (Hooker).

MENINGA CUP

Zac Lamont (Five-eight)

Lance Fuelema (front row)

Madison Beckett (lock)

Jackson Chang (Hooker)

CONNELL CUP

Cam Bukowski (Hooker)

Mikael Ibrahim (Lock/2nd row)

PJ Su'a (Front Row/2nd Row)

Hayden Miller (Half-5/8)

Josh Tokam (Wing)

 

Xavier Va'a with the ball during Western Mustangs U18 trials for 2021 rugby league season at Glenholme Park, Saturday, October 31, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Xavier Va'a with the ball during Western Mustangs U18 trials for 2021 rugby league season at Glenholme Park, Saturday, October 31, 2020. Picture: Kevin Farmer

WESTERN MUSTANGS

MENINGA CUP

Xavier Va'a Middle front row

Kelly Shadlow Middle front row

Joesph Currie Centre

Palm Beach Currumbin High School prop Xavier Willison has been signed by the Broncos and will play for Norths. Picture: Jerad Williams
Palm Beach Currumbin High School prop Xavier Willison has been signed by the Broncos and will play for Norths. Picture: Jerad Williams

NORTHS

CONNELL CHALLENGE

Poutoa Hotere-Papalii (centre)

Jai Camerlleri (hooker)

Hosea Kedzlie (outside back)

Matteo Leafiifano (second rower)

 

MENINGA CUP

Demascus Neemia (prop)

Felix Fa'atili (second row)

Junior Taungatua (backrow)

Tyrell Waaka-Rhind (hooker)

 

COLTS

Jayden Hunt (centre)

Poaso Manu (backrow)

Zak McGuire (hooker)

Xaiver Willison (prop)

Michael Waqa of Albany Creek playing earlier in his career. He now plays for Redcliffe. (AAP Image/Regi Varghese)
Michael Waqa of Albany Creek playing earlier in his career. He now plays for Redcliffe. (AAP Image/Regi Varghese)

REDCLIFFE

CONNELL CHALLENGE

Karl Oloapu (half)

Michael Waqa (frontrower)

William Sologinkin (backrower)

Thomas Lunney (backrower)

Mason Kira (lock/centre)

 

HASTINGS DEERINGS COLTS

Toby Elliott (Half)

Kyle Barnwell (Hooker)

Kini and Lingi Kepu (Front rowers)

Josh Gatt (Second row)

Harrison McIndoe (Centre)

Sam Thompson (Half)

 

MENINGA CUP

Matthew Bennett (Backrower)

Jaedon Wellington (Front row)

Sebastyan Jack (Half)

Kallum Weatherall-Stacey (Fullback)

 

Originally published as Players to Watch: Mal Meninga, Connell Cups


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