History will be created this weekend when the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans’ Under-16 representative side makes its debut in the Harold Matthews competition in Sydney.
And the side will be captained by Lismore junior Jack Durheim, whose father Jason was a star forward for Lismore Marist Brothers. His uncle Tony Durheim was a former Gold Coast Seagulls player.
The new-look Under-16s squad will join the Titans’ SG Ball (Under-18s) side in travelling to Sydney to tackle the Western Suburbs Magpies at Hillier Oval, Liverpool, on Saturday in the opening round of their respective junior competitions.
Jetstar Titans managing director Michael Searle said the debut of the Titans’ Harold Matthews side was the final piece in the puzzle for the club’s Junior Pathways Program.
“It gives us great satisfaction to be able to field Titans teams in top-level competitions from the age of 16 right through to NRL level,’’ said Searle.
“The Titans’ SG Ball team made the finals in their first season in the competition last year and big things are expected of both Harold Matthews and SG Ball squads this year.’’
Jetstar Titans head coach John Cartwright said the inclusion of the Harold Matthews squad was a further step towards the club’s long-term plan of having players from the Gold Coast, Northern Rivers and Ipswich regions making up 50 per cent of the NRL squad within the next five years.
“Having our own team in the Harold Matthews competition will provide a platform for local juniors to be able to familiarise themselves with the rigours of tough competition on a week-to-week basis as well as helping them to get used to the travel involved,’’ said Cartwright.
Titans under-16s coach Aaron Zimmerle said it was exciting to be just days out from his side’s first game in the competition after a fruitful pre-season.
“They’ve been an exceptional group throughout the off-season. There were 32 kids in the squad and all 32 put themselves in the contention with their work ethic and attitude,’’ said Zimmerle.
“Unfortunately we could only pick 17 players for our first game but if the opportunity arises throughout the season I’m sure the other 15 will be willing and able to do the job.
“We’ve prepared as well as we can so I’m confident we can deliver a good performance. Our biggest challenge is just initially getting used to the travel component.’’
The Harold Matthews and SG Ball squads for round one are:
- Harold Matthews: Fullback Jake Sands; wingers, Nathaniel Regueira, Daniel Kelly; centres, Ben Mariu James, Barlen Wilson; five-eighth Connor Toia; half, Sam Short; front row, Jim Dick, Brendan Tago; hooker, Tom Sunderland; second-row, Chris Moke, James Dunley; lock, Jack Durheim.
Reserves: Kael Smith, Andrew Vella, Denhem Blackburn, Tom Rowles.
- SG Ball: Fullback, Dean Olzard; wingers, Jackson Springer, Rowen Klein; centres, Sam Saville, Guy Borgas; five-eighth, Michael Parker-Walshe; half, Reece Worboys; front row, Sam Ross, Ethan Hook; hooker, Sam Meskell; second row, Lain Windley, Ryan James; lock, Tyson Skyring.
Reserves: Jarrod Wallace, Damian Sironen, Denhem Blackburn, Will Johnstone.