AROUND 350 junior rugby union players pulled up their socks for a shot at the Queensland Bushrangers representative squad in Tieri at the weekend.
The inaugural Xstrata Coal Country Muster drew on talent pools from Cairns, Mackay, Mt Isa, Bundaberg, Central Queensland and the Central Highlands.
The Bushrangers concept was developed to provide a pathway for talented rugby players who live in regions where they cannot provide a full complement of players to state championships.
Central Queensland regional development manager Joel Johnston said the response from parents and players was excellent.
“We’ve had some really good feedback and I think it’s definitely a step in the right direction,” he said.
Three Bushrangers teams were selected in the under-13, under-15 and under-17 age groups which will compete at the state championships in September.
A merit side was also named in the under-14s.
Johnston said while an U14 side was named, they wouldn’t play in the September carnival because of insufficient numbers.
“We needed 80 players in each age group to pick a team and unfortunately the depth wasn’t there,” he explained.
“But some of the good players we’ve bumped up to the U15s to have a run.”
Johnston said all the Central Highlands boys performed admirably, with the following named as his top picks: Sam Clayton and Lloyd Steiger in U17; Angus Campbell and Joey Marshall in U15; Blayne Johnstone and Connor Jones in U14; and Mac Hartley and Jason King in U13.
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