Schoolboy rugby union stars set to don the green and gold

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Five Sunshine Coast rugby union talents are looking to follow in the footsteps of the region’s best after snapping up spots in Australian schoolboy representative teams.

The players from Sunshine Coast Grammar School, St Andrews Anglican College, Good Shepherd Lutheran College and Mountain Creek State High School were selected after their efforts representing Queensland One and Queensland Two teams at the Australian Schools Rugby Championships in Parramatta.

The Australian Schoolboys and Australian Barbarians teams will play in a three-way competition against the Tongan Schoolboys side in Sydney in September.

The players’ selection comes after former Sunshine Coast rugby union juniors Tate McDermott and Carter Gordon represented the Wallabies against South Africa on July 8.

See what each player had to say about their exciting selections.

Australian Schoolboys

Australian Schoolboys Team 2023. Picture: Anthony Edgar.

Finn Lawson (Mountain Creek State High School)

Finn Lawson has been selected in the Australian Schoolboys rugby union side. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Lawson, a dual sporting prodigy, will pull on the green and gold jersey for the second year running despite his limited experience playing rugby union.

The current Sunshine Coast Falcons rugby league player travelled to Japan in 2022 and has now earnt back-to-back Australian schoolboy selections.

“I still don’t think the selection has set in from this year or last year but it’s very exciting and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

“I’m just hoping to try and learn as much as I can from the top coaches and just being around players that have the same work ethic and a strong ability to strive towards a higher level.

“I want to keep playing footy, represent my country, my state, my school and my region well and continue to have good support around me.”

Finn Lawson finds the try line for the Queensland 1 team against New South Wales 2 at the Australian Schools Rugby Championship at Eric Tweedale Stadium, Merrylands. Picture: Julian Andrews

The explosive outside back has been selected to play left wing and scored three tries throughout the tournament.

After being awarded the Sunshine Coast Falcons Mal Meninga Cup players’ player and player of the year at the 2023 end of season awards, Lawson also picked up players’ player award for his Queensland One team.

“I was a bit surprised to get the award as our team was filled with some quality players but I’m very happy,” he said.

“One of my biggest takeaways was when the coaches told me to really back myself and trust in my abilities.

“Overall it was pretty exciting, you get some of Australia’s best coaches and the competitiveness is pretty hectic.”

Australian Barbarians

Australian Schools Barbarians Team 2023. Picture: Anthony Edgar.

Kye Porter (St Andrew’s Anglican College, Noosa Dolphins)

Kye Porter has been selected in the Australian Barbarians Schoolboy rugby union side. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Porter, who plays fly-half, led his Queensland Two team all the way to the grand final where they went down swinging against a tough New South Wales Junior Rugby Union side.

The 17-year-old was also awarded the coaches award for best player at the end of the carnival.

“Going into the carnival I was a bit unsure of how we’d go because I was in the Queensland Two team but on the first day of camp our coaches assured us that we had a real chance of making it to the final and even winning the tournament,” he said.

“The best players award was a nice surprise too.

“We went really well as a team so I think when you’re playing number 10 and controlling a team that’s playing well together it makes things a lot easier.”

Kye Porter in action for Queensland 2 against New South Wales Juniors at the 2023 Australian Schools Rugby Championship at Eric Tweedale Stadium, Merrylands. Picture: Julian Andrews.

In his eleventh year of playing the sport he said it was a major milestone for his playing career.

“It was definitely a big jump up from school footy here on the Sunshine Coast but it was a great experience and I’m really excited to see how I go at the highest level,” he said.

“To be honest I was just stoked to make the Queensland team so making the Aussie Barbarians side was the last thing on my mind heading into the tournament.

“I don’t think it’s properly sunk in yet, I was pretty surprised when I heard my name but I was just happy to perform the way I did and to make the grand final.”

He said he hoped to continue to grow his skills ahead of the Barbarians training camp.

“It will be a good fun trip away, playing against Tonga will be another great experience,” he said.

“I just hope to keep playing good footy at a high level and hopefully that can open up a few opportunities for me next year.”

Saxon Thompson (Good Shepherd Lutheran College, Noosa Dolphins)

Saxon Thompson has been selected in the Australian Barbarians Schoolboy rugby union side. Picture: Patrick Woods.

The damaging second rower, who has been playing rugby union since he was five, is a former USC Barbarians junior.

“It was a great but crazy experience and I really enjoyed meeting new people and developing my skills,” he said.

“As a player you can always learn new things and the coaches there were really good.”

Sunshine Coast rugby union talents Saxon Thompson and Kye Porter with their Australian Barbarians ties. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Thompson said he wasn’t paying attention when the Australian teams were being announced but was looking forward to the coming months.

“I actually wasn’t trying to listen when they were reading the teams out because I felt like I didn’t play too well throughout the tournament and could’ve done a bit more,” he said.

“I was kicking rocks and talking to one of the boys so I was in pure shock when I heard my name and my mum was just screaming as well which is funny.

“I’m super stoked to be representing my country and I think I’m most looking forward to pulling on the Australian jersey.

“I’m hoping to be recognised, hoping to be seen by those coaches and staff at a higher level and show them what I can do.”

Josh Barlow (Sunshine Coast Grammar School)

Josh Barlow has been selected in the Australian Barbarians Schoolboy rugby union side. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Barlow, a strong and powerful hooker, was the Sunshine Coast schoolboys captain and said he had an added confidence representing Queensland in this tournament after also being selected in 2022.

“I felt like this year I had a bit more of a chip on my shoulder but I knew I also had time to develop my skills from last year so I had more confidence in my playing ability,” he said.

“It was an amazing experience to play with so many talented players and be a part of a close knit group that was able to put the Sunshine Coast on display.”

The former Caloundra Lighthouse junior said he gained a lot of extra knowledge from his Queensland One coaches.

“My biggest takeaway was when we spoke as a group about accountability and recognised that you have to be accountable for your actions and how you play because if you don’t show up for each other or for the player next to you, that’s when gameplans fall apart,” he said.

Josh Barlow in action for Sunshine Coast Grammar School against UK Bedford College. <span>Picture: Patrick Woods.</span>

The 18-year-old said he was proud of his achievement.

“I’m ecstatic, just the opportunity to put on the green and gold jersey is something to cherish forever,” he said.

“I’m mostly excited to step onto the field, especially alongside Jimmy, the other Sunshine Coast boys and the other players that I know.

“To represent Australia is a dream I’ve had since being a young kid so to have that opportunity is something I’m really looking forward to.”

Barlow said he hoped to be a part of the Queensland Reds under 18s and 19s Academy squads in the coming years.

Jimmy Jackson (Sunshine Coast Grammar School)

Jimmy Jackson has been selected in the Australian Barbarians Schoolboy rugby union side. Picture: Patrick Woods.

Jackson was another instrumental part of Queensland Two’s tournament success, working extremely well alongside his fly half partner, Kye Porter.

The former Noosa Dolphins and St Andrew’s Anglican College player said he was a lot calmer heading into the tournament as the side came in with lower expectations.

“It was great having a good team around me and as we developed through the games our teamwork got us through to the grand final, which wasn’t expected of us,” he said.

“I’d say after the first game is when we all realised that we could play some good footy together and grow a lot more across the carnival, which is what we did.”

Jimmy Jackson in action for Sunshine Coast Grammar School. Picture: Patrick Woods.

He said he enjoyed the high intensity matches.

“My biggest takeaway was that there wasn’t really an individual aspect of the tournament,” he said.

“We were playing to get to the next level rather than playing for selection so it was great to be a part of a team that wanted their brothers to succeed.”

Jackson said he was eager for the coming months.

“I’m extremely excited and very humbled to be a part of the Australian Barbarians team,” he said.

“It’s going to be a great experience and pulling on the green and gold jersey will be good fun.”

He said he was thankful for the support and guidance from his family, friends and his coaches.

Credit To Onwer