Talented Rocky touch footballers Jayden Benbow (left), James Baartz and James Western are fired up for their debut in the CQ open men’s team at this weekend’s state titles.
Talented Rocky touch footballers Jayden Benbow (left), James Baartz and James Western are fired up for their debut in the CQ open men’s team at this weekend’s state titles. Allan Reinikka Rokatouch

Rising stars to debut

WHAT this teenage trio may lack in age and experience they will sure make up for with talent to burn at this weekend's Queensland State Touch Football Championships in Brisbane.

Rising Rockhampton touch footy stars Jayden Benbow, James Baartz and James Western will make their Central Queensland open men's team debuts when the state titles get underway at Whites Hill today.

The talented trio will join the likes of Rockhampton's Australian representatives Gavin Shuker and Dan Withers representing the region at the three-day event.

Baartz and Western are aiming to continue their recent hot form after earning selection in the Australian under-18 boys' squad for next year's world championships in Auckland, New Zealand.

The pair joined Queensland's emphatic 13-7 win over NSW in the final of last month's national titles on the Sunshine Coast while Benbow has been picked for the Australian under-20's team.

New Zealand-born Western, who moved to Rockhampton with his family from Auckland four years ago, said yesterday he was excited to be playing against the state's best open age touch footballers in Brisbane.

"It should be good fun. I feel really honoured," the Glenmore Year 12 student said after school.

Baartz, in Year 12 at Emmaus College, is also looking forward to leading the CQ title assault but is feeling nervous at the same time.

"I'm sort of nervous and don't want to stuff up," he laughed.

CQ touch football administrator Tracy Upton said the region's five teams (open men, open women, open mixed, over-35s men and over-35s women) should perform strongly at the state championships, which are back on the calendar this year.

Upton said CQ would have players represented from Rockhampton, Emerald, Gladstone, Blackwater and Bundaberg.

Rockhampton's Withers brothers - Dan, Mitchell and Clint - will spearhead the open mixed team's gold medal chances.

There will be 14 divisions contested at Whites Hill starting today, with the event doubling as a selection event for Queensland teams for next year's State of Origin series.

Play continues tomorrow and finals action will hit the field on Sunday.



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