Thursday, August 24, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

New Wave Of Mackay Rugby League Talent In Queensland Representative Arena

State of Origin series-winning captain Daly Cherry-Evans is the toast of Queensland after his inspirational deeds for the Maroons this season in the representative arena.

Like a good wine, the Mackay native and St Patrick’s College graduate gets better with age and has struck a purple patch of form in 2023 since returning from the United Kingdom with Australia’s all conquering World Cup-winning rugby league squad.

Now a new wave of local Mackay juniors are ready to stamp their mark in the Under 19 Origin interstate and Secondary Schools challenge fixtures.

Promising Mackay Cutters utility back Kai Simon was named 19th man for the Queensland Under 19s squad that locked horns with NSW this week at Redcliffe’s Kayo Stadium.

In the early game, talented Cutters five eighth Emily Bella lined up for the Maroons Under 19s team against the Blues along with rising Mackay and North Queensland Cowboys centre Libby Surha and 17-year-old middle forward Lily Peacock.

Simon and Bella are products of the famous St Patrick’s College rugby league nursery as are boom Maroons’ Emerging Origin trio Jaxon Purdue, Xavier Kerrisk and Paityne Johns who experienced mixed fortunes at last week’s Australian Secondary Schools Under 18 National Championships in Brisbane.

The crafty Johns played second fiddle to Australian Schoolgirls hooker Nadia Windleborn in the Queensland side that finished runners up to NSW Combined High Schools in the Girls Championship final.

An outstanding number nine with skill and vision, Paityne produced strong performances when used as an interchange player by the Maroons who lost their only match in the trophy decider.

She starred for her junior club Magpies and the Cutters’ Under 19s before joining the Mackay BMD Premiership squad as a development player during the 2023 finals series.

Her immediate goal is to secure an NRLW contract with the North Queensland Cowboys.

Purdue and Kerrisk are the hottest two prospects in the Cutter’s ranks and will spearhead St Patrick’s bid for the Aaron Payne Cup schoolboys championship.

Both are contracted to the Cowboys and were key members of the Queensland Schoolboys team that won the Under 18 Pool A second v Pool B second final at the Australian Secondary Schools National Boys Championships.

Kerrisk, one of the best young hookers to burst on the Queensland scene, managed to play a mere 20 minutes in a 30-6 opening round loss to NSW Combined Catholic Colleges before being heavily concussed and ruled out of the Carnival.

Purdue turned in skilful performances at five eighth and scored two tries in a 26-6 victory over Combined Affiliated States to earn the Player of the Match award.

He followed it up with a strong showing in the Maroons’ emphatic 46-4 triumph over ACT.

By Chris Karas

St Patrick’s College rugby league stars Xavier Kerrisk, Paityne Johns and Jaxon Purdue represented Queensland at the Australian Secondary Schools Under 18 National Championships in Brisbane. Photos supplied

Queensland Secondary Schools five eighth Jaxon Purdue receives his Player of the Match award from Melbourne Storm official Tim Glasby

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