Grammar set for title defence at Confraternity Carnival
RUGBY LEAGUE: They were part of the all-conquering Rockhampton Grammar School First XIII that swept all before them last year.
Now Aaron Moore and Austen Routley have assumed the captaincy of the talented outfit which is looking to repeat its Confraternity Carnival heroics in Charters Towers next week.
The reigning champions open their campaign against Yeppoon powerhouse St Brendan's on Monday morning in a game that coach Rod Peckett said would go a long way in determining the fate of both teams at the prestigious event.
"It's a different kettle of fish for us this year because we're in a pool which is much harder,” Peckett said.
"We play St Brendan's in our first game and the loser of that is already under the pump.
"You can't afford to lose two games in those pools because you won't go through, it's as simple as that.
"We also have Marymount College who are playing some really good football and Marist College who, while traditionally a rugby union school, are emerging as a real force.
"It's going to be a really difficult pool to get out of but, realistically, we're not thinking past that first game. We need to win that.”
Forty-eight schools from across Queensland and northern New South Wales will contest the 39th annual Confraternity Carnival.
First contested by six schools in 1980, it has featured 150 future NRL players, including 30 State of Origin reps and 20 Kangaroos players.
Peckett said Grammar, St Brendan's, Rockhampton's The Cathedral College and Townsville's Ignatius Park would be among the main contenders again but nominated St Mary's from Toowoomba as the "real smoky” this year.
TCC and Emmaus College are both in Pool B, along with Ignatius Park and St Edmund's College, Ipswich.
Peckett said Grammar had played seven very hard games of football in the Aaron Payne Cup, which had provided an ideal preparation.
"We have six or seven of the boys from last year's team back with us so that experience is going to be invaluable,” he said.
"The players have come together really well and I think, with a bit of luck, we should go really well.
"They wouldn't be human if they didn't go into the carnival fully aware they're the reigning champions but it's not something we've talked about.
"I'm a big believer in creating your own history. It's just another year for us and we went them to make their own story and do the best they can.
"As long as the effort is there, the result will look after itself.”
Peckett said co-captains Moore (five-eighth) and Routley (lock) would be vital to the team's chances, along with hooker Riley Comiskey, centre Leighton Milburn and fullback Jacob Spark.
He is urging his players to "seize the moment” and make the most of the opportunity.
"Good line speed, good contact, be aggressive and own the middle - that's what Grammar league's all about and that's exactly how we intend to play,” Peckett said.