The Norths under-18 rugby league team.
The Norths under-18 rugby league team.

School, club, teenage challenges: Norths players up to task

WITH so much going on in their lives, under-18 footballers have extra challenges qualifying for a grand final.

However, Norths coaching director and under-18 mentor Michael Williamson was pleased how well his players have tackled their demands during a hectic stage of their sporting and schooling life.

"Game-wise, it's been good,'' Williamson said, preparing for Saturday night's grand final against Brothers Blue.

"The hardest problem with this age group is the commitment and keeping them committed all season.''

That situation has been compounded with Norths having a number of players heavily involved in the elite Ipswich State High and St Edmund's College programs in major competitions like the Langer Cup and AIC this year.

Those busy players include the coach's son and halfback Lachlan, who Michael sees first hand what demands, disappointments and highlights the teenagers face.

"They do a lot of football,'' he said.

The Norths' under-18 side is captained by second rower Logan Spark, who also led the St Edmund's team making its debut in the AIC competition, which is just wrapping up for the season.

At Norths, Williamson has modified club training to assist the teenagers manage their at-times heavy workloads.

"Their mateship has probably been the biggest thing with this squad,'' he said.

Some of the Tigers footballers have played in every grand final since under 11 and under 12.

"They have been a good squad,'' the coach said. "That's what gets me through - the mateship and we've got a few different players this year.

"Some have come in from the Gold side from last year but the way they've all just become one team again is probably the best thing. It's the mateship that you gain from it.''

The Norths Blue under-18 team finished the regular season in second place before defeating Goodna 26-16 to reach the grand final.

Brothers Blue needed a field goal in sudden-death extra time to end Goodna's powerful run in last weekend's preliminary final.

Williamson said the grand final teams could be proud preparing for Saturday night's encounter at the North Ipswich Reserve.

"You see the boys grow up,'' he said. "The commitments they make.''