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2021 Schoolboy Cup

Schoolboy Cup Eels halves Sanders and Talagi battle in Grand Final rematch

Westfields SHS go into attack mode in Rnd 1 against The Hills SHS (Photo : Steve Montgomery)
Westfields SHS go into attack mode in Rnd 1 against The Hills SHS (Photo : Steve Montgomery)

Schoolboy Cup Eels halves Sanders and Talagi battle in Grand Final rematch


Author : Jocelyn Airth News Corp Australia Sports Newsroom

They were teammates six weeks ago in a heartbreaking loss, now Ethan Sanders and Blaize Talagi battle each other as Westfields play Patrician Brothers in the Schoolboy Cup.

Patrician Bros Ethan Sanders scores a try in the Patrician Bro's 52-22 win. Picture: Toby ZernaPatrician Bros Ethan Sanders scores a try in the Patrician Bro’s 52-22 win. Picture: Toby Zerna

Six weeks ago, Eels youngsters Ethan Sanders and Blaize Talagi lost the Harold Matthews Cup grand final to Manly in a heartbreaker.

On Wednesday, Parramatta’s slick halves will return to the field as Westfields SHS battle Patrician Brothers Blacktown in Round 2 of the NRL Schoolboy Cup.

But this time, Sanders and Talagi will run out against – not alongside – each other.

“I’ve taken a lot out of that grand final. I feel like I didn’t take control in that final as much as I should, that took it for granted a bit. I’ve learnt a lot from that,” Patties halfback Sanders said.

Patrician Brothers Blacktown player Ethan Sanders, the NRL Schoolboy Cup is starting back up and Patrician Brothers Blacktown are defending champions. Picture: Jonathan NgPatrician Brothers Blacktown player Ethan Sanders, the NRL Schoolboy Cup is starting back up and Patrician Brothers Blacktown are defending champions. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Sanders’ biggest challenge will be to outsmart his mate Talagi – a tough five-eighth, who played the first half of his junior representative season as a middle.

Westfields’ star Talagi can’t wait for the encounter.

“Going up against Ethan in the halves, and (Eels teammates) Myles Martin, it’ll be a good challenge for us, they’re good players,” Talagi said.

“I’m looking forward to it … our team’s looking good, we’ve come together well, got a few boys back from representative footy.”

Both Sanders and Talagi missed their Round 1 Schoolboy Cup clashes due to City v Country commitments.

Last year, Sanders was mentored by Jakob Arthur, who made his NRL debut less than one year after he led Patties to their NSW Schoolboy Cup title.

Sanders said that Arthur is an inspiration to current Patties students.

“He did a lot for me last year, giving me pointers, letting me fill in even though I was one of the younger boys, I’ve really looked up to Jake over the last few years,” he said.

NRL Schoolboy Cup 2021. Players from Westfields Sports High School in West Fairfield, Sydney. Players L to R Blaize Talagi Solomone Saukuru Tallyn Da Silva Raymond lole Photo: Tim Pascoe Schoolboy Cup 2021. Players from Westfields Sports High School in West Fairfield, Sydney. Players L to R Blaize Talagi Solomone Saukuru Tallyn Da Silva Raymond lole Photo: Tim Pascoe

“To see him go all the way through the ranks, to be playing NRL now, it puts a lot of confidence in me and the other boys that there’s no reason we couldn’t do the same, if we work hard and put in the effort he has.”

“Seeing how far (last year’s) boys have gone … Jakob and Sean Russell. Tito Turuva is playing NSW Cup for Penrith. Seeing how far those boys can go from playing school footy, it gives me confidence.

Sanders expects a big game from his middles Myles Martin and John Sagaga.

But stopping Westfields will be difficult – fullback Carson Kaho, second rower Jarvis Leafa and big Solomone Saukuru have the potential to be damaging.

Sanders is determined to give it his all and steer Patties to back-to-back Schoolboy Cup titles.

“Schoolboy footy means a lot, I’ve always wanted to play for school,” Sanders said.

“I was fortunate to play for school last year, to get another opportunity this year means everything.

“We want to back up what the boys did last year and to bring the Cup back to the school, because it means everything to the students and the school.”

LIVESTREAM: Watch the game between Westfields SHS and Patrician Brothers Blacktown live at dailytelegraph.com.au from 1.30pm on Wednesday, June 9

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