OPINION: The BRL should be regarded a top junior nursery
BUNDABERG Rugby League should be considered one of Queensland's leading nurseries of junior talent.
The BRL's under-20s representative team is one of the strongest the Bears have named in recent years.
Seven members of Bundaberg's 20-man under-20s rep squad for the 47th Battalion Carnival in Yeppoon next month were part of the open's rep side.
The other 13 members of the U20s team had strong cases to be included in the opens team.
Past Brothers' Layton Chambers has been a shining light for the competition heavyweights, while Seagulls prop Elijah Alefaio is one of the toughest men to handle when he is on his game.
Wallaroos' Jack Horder is a stable hand in his side's pack, teammate Corey Hellmuth never backs down, and five-eighth Ben Waters, whose return to the Maryborough's club's starting side coincided with their improved form.
That's before you consider the likes of winger-turned second-rower Trent Seeds and workhorse Jackson Paulson, both from Waves, Past Brothers' Rueben Olive and the untapped potential of Maryborough Brothers' Nathan Anaru.
Former Melbourne, North Queensland and Canterbury international Antonio Kaufusi will coach the side, giving the best of the competition's junior talents direct access to more than a decade of NRL experience.
The BRL boasts a number of the best under-20s players in Queensland, and whether they progressed through Bundaberg's or Fraser Coast's systems or have joined the competition from elsewhere, that has to be a feather in the region's cap.
The player points system, which has dominated headlines for the wrong reasons, was not only introduced to level the playing field, but to encourage clubs to focus on its junior talent.
Wallaroos is one of the best examples of change.
Coach Peter Waters vowed to utilise the region's juniors when he took charge last year. He was ridiculed for the stance at the time, but by season's end unearthed some of the best junior players in the competition.
Hervey Bay Seagulls have awarded A-grade debuts to several under-18 players in the last two seasons, while Maryborough Brothers's Ann St base is a land of opportunity.