Grammar tops GPS selections
THE plaudits continue to roll in for Ipswich Grammar School's rugby program.
Days before Izack Rodda became the eighth IGS alum to pull on a Wallabies jersey in Australia's Bledisloe Cup loss to the All Blacks, a host of juniors were selected to Queensland representative sides.
In the 75-man under 15 Junior Gold Cup squad named for the September 24-28 championship at Ballymore, 11 hail from Ipswich Grammar.
That is one more than GPS rivals Brisbane Boys College and St Joseph's (Nudgee and Gregory Terrace) managed, and further positions the Ipswich school as one of the foremost breeding grounds for rugby talent in the state.
Just a day later, another four students were named to Queensland Red and White teams set to contest the under 16 National Championships at The Southport School, starting September 24.
It caps what has been a highly fruitful year of representative success for IGS, but Nigel Greive expected as much from the moment the talented youngsters walked through the school's gates.
"This has been a particularly successful cohort from the get-go - they train hard, work hard and are very focused on their football,” the director for sport and activities said of the 15 QLD selections.
"They've had very good mentors the whole way, and (the selections) show our program is working so in that respect we're very happy to be seeing results.
"Absolutely we're very proud of the boys for their efforts.”
Greive highlighted the tutelage of director of rugby Michael Abbott and his fellow coaching staff as key to improving upon the boys' obvious raw talent.
"In the backs particularly we're quite athletic, and they were right from the get-go and we've built on that,” Greive said.
"We've thrown a lot of infrastructure at them in terms of pre-season work and coaching staff over the past two years.
"Michael Abbott has taken a very good group of athletic young men to the next level, in terms of understanding the game and building the skillsets necessary for rugby.”
Greive would not be drawn into proclamations of future Wallabies berths, saying there was still a lot of water to move under the bridge between now and that point. But he did say the trail recently paved by Rodda is one these youngsters can follow, so long as they continue to hone their craft once the structure of school programs is behind them.
"I hate putting that pressure on young people, but there is a lot of natural athleticism with this group that will hold them in good stead,” Greive said.
"The potential is certainly there for some of those boys, depending on whether they're willing to work for it like Izack (did).
"At every level it becomes harder to be selected. They certainly have the raw materials, they just have to put in the hard work, do the right things and make every level a winner for themselves.
"Post-school is a tough time, they don't have that management around them and need to survive in club world for a couple of years. (But) a lot of these boys have the potential, that's certain.”
To that end, Greive understands better than most the importance of representative programs outside the school sphere toward fostering young talent.
"To be exposed at the next level to the best players from around the country, they'll see what it takes to go to and compete at that next level,” Greive said.
"That tournament mentality - exposure to and the number of tough games every day - it will certainly hone their skills in such a tough environment.
"They'll also be exposed to new coaches who can take them to that next level. I think that's critical to their development and the parent body (Queensland Rugby Union) have got that right.”
IGS Qld Reps
Junior Gold Cup: Jack Webber, Konrad Wallace, Nathan Weir, Tom Tronc (forwards), Christian Krause, Ethan King, Jamaine Laei, Kalani Thomas, Kedan Chan-Tung, Sam Walker, Seamus King-Smith (backs).
U16 National Championships: Tom Casey, Lance Bagon (QLD Red), Solomon Tas, Meli Dreu (QLD White)