Schoolboy heavyweights to clash in curtain-raiser to Wallabies-Argentina Test

The Rugby Championship
by Emma Greenwood

Queensland's best schoolboy players will get their own moment under the spotlight next month when they run out on to Suncorp Stadium ahead of the Wallabies in a curtain-raiser for the Test against Argentina.

GPS powerhouses St Joseph's College Nudgee and Brisbane State High School will clash ahead of the Australia-Argentina Test in Brisbane on July 27.

State High gave up their home-ground advantage for the chance to have the players run on to the hallowed turf at the Cauldron in a move that has been applauded by the school's former students, Queensland Reds and aspiring Wallabies Alex Mafi and Jordan Petaia.

"I think it's really awesome for this GPS competition, there's a lot of talent that goes around in this competition and for them to get this exposure at the stadium before a Test match is awesome," Mafi said.

"It's good for them to make these little memories along the way.

"This will be huge and something that they'll remember for a long time, running out before the Wallabies.

"I wish I had that when I was back at school."

Former STate High student Jordan Petaia with current flyhalf Moses Jones and Nudgee playmaker Reesjan Pasitoa with former student Alex Mafi at the announcement of a Nudgee-State High curtain-raiser to the Wallabies-Argentina Test. Photo: Getty Images

Mafi's Nudgee team played a couple of pre-season clashes at Suncorp Stadium ahead of Reds games and said even then, the feeling was great.

"I was taken aback by the bright lights, it didn't feel like playing back at Ross Oval at Nudgee," he said.

"Plying at night time was also a bit different as a school kid, so there were little learning curves along the way, which is pretty good.

"I'm sure a lot of kids will use this as a motivator for where they want to be in a few years and I think it will help their journey."

Petaia said he would have enjoyed the opportunity to play at Suncorp.

"I would have loved that, it would have been cool," Petaia said of playing a major curtain-raiser. 

There's little doubt it will provide an impetus for the current players, including Nudgee flyhalf Reesjan Pasitoa, who will link with the Brumbies for next season, and his State High opposite, Moses Jones, the younger brother of Quade Cooper.

Pasitoa remembers playing against Petaia in his maiden first XV season, where the former State High centre smoked past him with a strong step.

Reds hooker and Wallabies aspirant Alex Mafi. Photo: Getty Images

"He got me good, just ran through me, too big, too strong," Pasitoa said.

"I versed him in schoolboys in 2017 and to see how far he's come is really cool.

"It's something that I want to strive for as well."

Pasitoa praised the Rugby Australia for giving the schoolboys a run and hoped the initiative would continue into the future.

"I think it's a great idea and a great experience for the boys to be involved. Even to have the crowd there as well, that'll be really cool for the boys and we can all hang around and hopefully watch the Wallabies get a win as well."

Jones said giving away a home game against Nudgee had been "hard" but the opportunity to play at Suncorp was too good to pass up.

A representative league match for Logan Districts as age 12 was Jones's only previous experience at Suncorp Stadium and he was looking forward to running on to the ground again.

"It's always a good match, State High and Nudgee," said Jones, who made his first XV debut last year.

"I'm definitely a lot more comfortable taking the field now. I was still ready for the challenge last year but I'm probably a bit more comfortable this year to back myself."

Schoolboy star Reesjan Pasitoa will play for Nudgee in a curtain-raiser to the Wallabies-Argentina Test at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

While he is a different player from his brother - "he's obviously got that step and has that god-given flair and I rely on my kicking and passing a lot more" - Jones still appreciates Cooper's input on his game.

"We're always talking, sometimes we sit down and draw up a few situations on paper and he's always giving me advice," Jones said.

"It's good to have someone who's done it before me and is close to me. I've definitely always looked up to him and I'm grateful to have such a good role model as an older brother.

"He has  been through a lot but his resilience and ability to get back to where he is now - in terms of rugby and as a person - is quite inspiring."

Nudgee has won the past two GPS premierships but Pasitoa said this season was a new challenge with several seniors having moved on last year.

"We understand that before there have been premierships won but it's a new season again, so as the 2019 team, we'll try and make our own legacy," he said.