RUGBY LEAGUE: The last time a Central Highlands team played in the grand final of the NRL Development Cup, Brisbane Broncos' halfback Ben Hunt was in Year 7 at Blackwater.
Now a new wave of aspiring young regional stars are set to follow in his footsteps, with Emerald's St Patrick's Catholic Primary School winning its way into the 2016 Cup decider at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow.
The team, led by captain Tye Comiskey, will tackle Harris Fields State School from Woodridge in the curtain raiser to the Intrust Super Cup grand final.
Coach and school principal Max Martin said his young chargers were primed and ready to go.
"This is the first time we've made the final. It's a wonderful achievement given there are more than 500 teams involved in this competition which is open to state, independent and Catholic schools across Queensland,” he said.
"We had a training run on Thursday and the boys were jumping out of their skins.
"It's been a long journey; it started in Term 1 and we've won seven games to get here.
"It's just going to be a fantastic experience and everyone is so excited.”
Martin and Comiskey attended a media call in Brisbane on Tuesday with the other coaches and captains involved in tomorrow's QRL grand final day.
"That was fantastic. I was overawed standing there in the middle of Suncorp Stadium so I can only imagine how the kids will feel.
"This will be a wonderful opportunity and it will be the biggest stage they've played on.”
Martin said the Brisbane-based coaches were amazed at just how much distance the Emerald team had covered on its road to the grand final.
"We had to go to Townsville to play the semi-final, and they couldn't believe we had to travel six and a half hours to play a game of footy,” he said.
Martin knows his team will be up against some strong opposition tomorrow, with 12 Brisbane Met East rep players in the Harris Field line-up.
But he is confident of a strong showing from his boys, who have proven their mettle against some tough rivals along the way.
"We're a very solid little team, we're strong across the board and our defence is excellent,” he said.
"It's going to be tough but we can't wait.”