Central Highlands under-16s at the Capras trials.
Central Highlands under-16s at the Capras trials.

Conditions provide extra trial

CENTRAL Highlands junior representative players were waging a fierce battle on two fronts at the Capricorn Capras selection trials in Gladstone at the weekend.

One was against the weather, the second against the Central Queensland opposition teams running towards them.

The biting wind and persistent rain teeming down over the course of the carnival played right into the hands of Capras’ selector and Central Highlands under-16s coach Boyd Vickers.

“It turned out perfect from a selection point of view,” he said.

“Some of the other players might have had a bit more flair but the ones I picked were the ones who showed they could handle the conditions on Saturday.

“I wanted the ones I knew could tough it out because it’s not going to get any easier once they move on down to Ipswich where it can get to below zero.”

Three Capras age groups were chosen – under-13s, 14s and 16s – to represent the region at the state trials in Ipswich next month.

The sheer number of players chosen to represent at the next level was testament to the strength of rugby league development in the Central Highlands.

Six junior players were chosen from the under-16s trialling sides, two from the under-14s and five in the under-13s.

The Highlands players were boosted by the match-play experience during trials in Blackwater earlier this year, factoring significantly in the positive selection results in Gladstone.

Vickers said after suffering heavily to Rockhampton during their Blackwater trial, the under-16s outfit rebounded smartly to win 22-6 over their Central Queensland rivals at the weekend. “We were concentrating a lot on our line defence and we didn’t let in any easy tries.”

Only merit sides will be selected at the Ipswich carnival for the junior age groups (13 -14 years) meaning there will be no further representation. But the test is still on for the Capras under-16s with a Queensland Maroons team named to take on New South Wales in the coming months.

In the meantime, the Capras candidates will have more trial obligations to ensure players are up to speed with the intensity of state-level football.

The under-13s and 14s will pack their bags for Childers to take on Wide Bay’s representative teams, while the Capras under-16s will be put to the test against a Central Highlands invitational side in Emerald on Sunday.

A running theme of pink also infiltrated the Central Highlands playing ranks at Gladstone, with players donning pink socks in support of the McGrath Foundation’s cancer awareness program.

Vickers said the players and parents alike got a kick out of the new strip, with moves to brighten up more local matches in the future for other charities.

There are also motions to move away from the Possible v Probable concept in future selection trials.

“We found we were keeping the kids for a lot longer than was needed,” Vickers said.


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