Ipswich school talents given ‘extraordinary’ opportunities
EXTRAORDINARY opportunities await a group of Ipswich State High footballers preparing to graduate or who are returning next year to continue in the school's successful rugby league program.
Year 12 students Evander Tere-Rongotaua, Deijion Leugaimafa, Elijuwhon Suavai, Ilai Tuia and Waylon Fiaii have NRL club contracts or deals that will boost their sporting careers.
Powerhouse centre Rongotaua finishes school shortly to fulfil his contract with the Sydney Roosters.
Ipswich State High co-captain and fullback Leugaimafa has been offered a two-year deal with South Sydney.
After completing his Langer Cup commitments, he received some game time as part of the powerful Goodna Eagles A-Grade side playing in the Volunteers Cup competition.
Impact forward Suavai will graduate with a two-year Dragons deal.
Consistent performing prop Tuia has been offered a training trial with Penrith. It's up to him how he progresses from that valuable pre-season experience.
Backrower Fiaii has been given an opportunity with the Cronulla Sharks. Like Tuia, Fiaii is guaranteed a pre-season and chance to work for a contract.
In more terrific news, year 11 student Josiah Pahulu has his original Titans junior contract extended under a three-year deal.
After dominant performances in this year's Langer Cup series, he will be back to help Ipswich State High in 2021 as a year 12 student.
Another rising teenage talent Tommy Luhrman has also been offered a Roosters contact running through until he finishes school. The diminutive hooker can work towards an upgrade next year.
Year 9 student Ogden George was recently offered a two-year Academy contract with the Canterbury Bulldogs, signalling that NRL club's scouting intentions.
Ipswich State High Rugby League Program head coach Josh Bretherton is delighted with the growing NRL club interest in regional school footballers.
"It would be very close to our best,'' Bretherton said. "We've never had a better season.
"We're very proud of the boys.
"Three of them have got contracts and their path set up for the next two years and the other two have got extraordinary opportunities that most rugby league players would give anything to get.
"Now the ball is in their court to go and show what they can do.''
Bretherton and his professional team will resume their successful development program in the new year with more high expectations.
"We're proud every time we can be a part of helping these kids receive an opportunity,'' he said.
"We're proud of all our boys.
"There's certainly excitement among the playing group and among the staff when boys get opportunities. And there's a nice mixture of kids like Deijion and Waylon who have come all the way through our system . . . or someone like Elijuwhon who moved here for 12 months and has been living away from home and making sacrifices there.''
Bretherton said a bonus for the latest group heading to Sydney was they could build their friendships and connections through shared accommodation and experiences.
They can also link up with past Ipswich State High players who have secured similar opportunities.