Central Queensland products Stephen Coombe and Kurt Mann were selected in the Queensland under-18 rugby league side yesterday.
Central Queensland products Stephen Coombe and Kurt Mann were selected in the Queensland under-18 rugby league side yesterday. File

Young Maroons tackle NSW U18

QUEENSLAND State of Origin fans remember these names – Stephen Coombe and Kurt Mann.

It’s only a matter of time before you see the pair on the centre stage in a Maroons jersey.

At Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on June 15, the rising Central Queensland rugby league stars will lead the Queensland under-18 team in their inter-state clash against NSW.

Former teammates on the 2010 AIS Tour of France and the United Kingdom, Coombe lines up for the Maroons in the front row while Mann will be guiding the side around the park at halfback.

Coombe, who hails from Nankin – half-way between Rockhampton and Emu Park – was rewarded for his performances to start the Toyota Cup season with the Brisbane Broncos games, while Longreach junior Mann made his Toyota Cup debut for the Newcastle Knights at fullback a fortnight ago after leading their under-18 side to the national championship.

After trialling during the pre-season, Coombe played in all 11 of the Broncos Toyota Cup matches this season.

Coombe said he’d now have to try and defer his exams, scheduled during the Queensland camp, but said that was the least of his worries, with the QUT physiotherapy student excited about pulling the maroon jersey on again.

“I remember with the under-16 Queensland side playing in Melbourne (before Origin) was unreal,” he said.

“To do it again is absolutely amazing.”

The 17-year-old is enjoying the rise in competition from schoolboy level to Toyota Cup, not only from rival sides but from within the Broncos ranks.

“Coming into the under-20 competition is a whole new level for me,” Coombe said.

“Just the pace and the standard of footy is a big step up, but more than that you’re battling for a spot every week.”

In his first season at the Newcastle Knights, Mann has been a revelation for the club at halfback and fullback after graduating from St Brendan’s College in 2010.

It’s been a huge month of footy for Mann who led the Knights to the SG Ball title after returning in the grand final from a six-week layoff due to a broken jaw.

Mann then backed up his performance a week later to guide the Knights to a national under-18 championship win over Norths Devils on May 15, before he was promoted to the Knights Toyota Cup the following week.

The 18-year-old made an eye-catching debut in the Toyota Cup competition at fullback scoring two tries in the side’s 50-18 win over the Sydney Roosters.

With a number of his Newcastle teammates expected to be selected in the Blues team, Mann said he’d have the edge over some of the other Queensland players.

Queensland under-18s

Zac SANTO (Nth Qld Cowboys), Mitcham ARDLER (Gold Coast Titans), Tautau MOGA (Sydney Roosters), Jerome LEEDY (Norths Devils), Matthew BERWICK (Brisbane Broncos), Luke ABDUL-RAHMAN (North Qld Cowboys), Kurt MANN (Newcastle Knights), Chris GREVSMUHL (Nth Qld Cowboys), Cameron CULLEN (Brisbane Broncos), Stephen COOMBE (Brisbane Broncos), Jack KELLEHER (North Qld Cowboys), Iain RICCARDI (Penrith Panthers), Caleb BINGE (Norths Devils), Daniel ALVARO (Brisbane Broncos), Heymel HUNT (Gold Coast Titans), Anthony GADD (Nth Queensland Cowboys), Francis MOLO (Norths Devils). Coach: Brendan Lam.



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