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Langer Trophy finals’ countdown: Best New Faces of 2021

Harry Schwenke celebrates his try for St Mary's. Picture: Nev Madsen.
Harry Schwenke celebrates his try for St Mary's. Picture: Nev Madsen.

Langer Trophy finals’ countdown: Best New Faces of 2021

Author : Andrew Dawson News Corp Sports

Langer Trophy finals countdown: Just three days from the semi-finals – all to be livestreamed by News Corp – the best new faces of 2021

Three, two, one … it is just three days to Langer Trophy finals takeoff, with Marsden SHS, Palm Beach Currumbin SHS, Keebra Park SHS and Ipswich SHS set for action at Langlands Park on Wednesday.

News Corp will be there to livestream the action via www.couriermail.com.au, the Gold Coast Bulletin and News affiliates.

It has been a bumper season featuring an exciting array of new faces.

Some, like Palm Beach Currumbn SHS fullback Keano Kini and Keebra Park SHS winger Keebra Park Elijah Lui are game-breakers, while others, like Wavell’s Drew Timms and Coombabah SHS’s Jay Blazek, are unsung heroes.

Today we feature the competition’s best New Faces of 2021.

COOMBABAH SHS

JAY BLAZEK

Every team needs a Jay Blazek. The Coombabah SHS middle forward worker started the season as just another face in the off-season training squad, but he blossomed the more the competition unfolded.

Indeed the rookie who nominates Roosters pair Clive Radley and James Tedesco as his role models improved to such a degree, he played first grade with his junior club the Helensvale Hornets.

Coombabah SHS rugby league player Jay Blazek. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

Coombabah SHS rugby league player Jay Blazek. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

“I didn’t think I would reach A-grade level this quick. The game against men is much more aggressive and fast,’’ he said.

Blazek said Coombabah’s return to the Langer Trophy highlighted to fellow students they did not have to leave their community to play in the elite schoolboy competition.

“I had my mates and the same coaches around me and it also helped the team as we had such a good culture at Coombabah,’’ Blazek said.

HARRISON SCHWENKE (St Mary’s College)

St Mary’s College coach Matt Jahnke rates Harrison Schwenke as the best newcomer to the team in 2021.

The Warwick-born, Texas-raised forward has stepped up to the mark for St Mary’s, despite being just 16 years old.

Harry Schwenke playing for St Mary's. Picture: Nev Madsen.

Harry Schwenke playing for St Mary’s. Picture: Nev Madsen.

He scored a barnstorming try against Mabel Park, and Jahnke praised the attitude Schwenke has brought to the team.

“He brings an enthusiasm and willingness to learn,” Jahnke said.

“Harrison is keen to engage in the process and he works hard.

He’s still a lean front rower, but he’s working hard to improve his gym work and all that.

“He’s not afraid to take blokes on defensively and reminds me a bit of Thomas Flegler.

He’s very versatile.”

ELIJAH LUI (Keebra Park SHS)

Speed demon Lui entered the season on the front foot having helped Tweed Seagulls win the Meninga Cup state wide competition in May.

A capable fullback, he has found a home on the wing in the top flight competition where his pace gives Keebra Park SHS enormous threat from any position on the field.

Lui has had to work for his place, having earned his stripes coming through the Titans Cup premiership winning side of 2020 before earning promotion in the Langer Trophy for 2021.

KEANO KINI (Palm Beach Currumbin)

Kini gets another mention this season after making the Surprise Packets of 2021 story earlier in the month.

A year 11 student signed by the Gold Coast Titans, he is a schoolboy prodigy who has shone in the New Zealand system before moving to PBC SHS to complete the final two years of his schooling.

His strong carries and footwork makes him a handful, both entering the attack from the back or hunting around his halves in the middle of the ruck.

But he can also ball play, which adds to his arsenal.

Keano Kini playing for Tweed. Picture: Scott Powick Newscorp

Keano Kini playing for Tweed. Picture: Scott Powick Newscorp

Kini has been a great discovery and a shrewd addition to the high profile PBC SHS program.

He is also a winner, having helped Tweed Seagulls to the Meninga Cup state final.

XAVIER STOWERS (Marsden SHS)

The 196cm tall, 114kg Stowers is big and strong and he has used that asset to the best of his ability in his Langer Trophy debut season.

From a rugby union background, Stowers learned his craft while at the Ipswich Jets in 2020 but his game has gone to another level this season.

Xavier Stowers and Jardyn Stilinovich-Watene were the best New Faces at Marsden State High School. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)

Xavier Stowers and Jardyn Stilinovich-Watene were the best New Faces at Marsden State High School. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)

A big bloke who craves the physical confrontation, Stowers was given a simple message at Marsden – run hard and play the ball quickly.

He would not be a dummy runner, he would be a primary runner and he has filled that role to perfection.

Indeed he twice scored close to the line tries from seemingly impossible positions – including against the heralded PBC SHS defensive line.

Signed by the Gold Coast Titans, Stowers has fresh legs for the code and his development over the next three years will be fascinating to monitor.

RENE BAGON (Ipswich SHS)

Ipswich State High School head coach Josh Bretherton said Bagon had impressed stepping up as a prop in the Langer Trophy competition this season.

“He has been new and he is young and he has played excellent football,’’ Bretherton said.

“He has been one of our better forwards consistently across the whole season.

“He has competed very well and he’s new to this level.’’

Bagon, who has just turned 16, has been one of Ipswich State High’s most determined performers.

“He gives us a bit of physicality and grit,’’ the coach said.

“He just wants to get in and do the dirty work and throw his body around and be physical … and the guys get energy from that.’’

Bagon was initially seen by Manly as a Walters Cup player at Forest Lake SHS.

Ipswich State High School rugby league player Rene Bagon has been a leading performer in the 2021 Langer Trophy competition.

Ipswich State High School rugby league player Rene Bagon has been a leading performer in the 2021 Langer Trophy competition.

BEN TE KURA (Wavell SHS)

 

Tall and lean, Te Kura is one of the elite young players of the Langer Trophy.

A left edge backrower, the Brisbane Broncos signed forward had a disrupted pre-season and late start to the competition after recovering from injury.

BEN TE KURA (Wavell SHS).

BEN TE KURA (Wavell SHS).

But he impressed in every outing, including scoring two tries to rally his side from an 18-nil deficit against Keebra Park.

A Norths’ Devils Meninga Cup player, Te Kura was named in the Queensland schoolboys 16-18 years team merit side after helping the Wavell-laden Metro North to the state championship earlier in the year.

 

DREW TIMMS (Wavell SHS)

 

Timms was the glue of the Wavell SHS pack.

He is a no-frills middle forward who tackles and works, then tackles and works some more.

Timms is the type of player every successful side needs.

A 2019 Queensland under 15 teammate of Langer teammates Junior Taungatua and Tahrell Feaveai, Timms was also one of the Redcliffe Dolphins’ best players in a frustrating Meninga Cup campaign earlier in the year.

 

ARAMA HAU (Keebra Park SHS)

 

Arama Hau has been a tremendous asset to Keebra Park SHS, with his powerful running and deceptive footwork at the defensive line.

A South Coast representative, he is a Coombabah SHS junior who shone in age group competitions before switching to Keebra Park where he chased his dream of playing in the Langer Trophy – understandably not knowing Coombabah would be promoted to Langer status in 2021.

He is capable of scoring close to the line tries if opposition forwards do not get well balanced and commit aggressively in defence, and it is little wonder the Gold Coast Titans have identified him.

 

Caleb Gould-Waiariki playing for Burleigh Bears in under 18 Mal Meninga Cup Picture Scott Powick Newscorp

CALEB GOULD-WAIARIKI (Coombabah SHS)

CALEB GOULD-WAIARIKI (Coombabah SHS)

 

Gould-Waiariki rose to the occasion for Coombabah SHS when they lost their leader and No.1 player, Tim Sielaff-Burns, early in the season.

A Gold Coast Titans contracted halve, Gould-Waiariki led his team superbly while never letting his own standards slide.

A gun touch football player, Gould-Waiariki is a Burleigh Bears junior who scored the match winning try when the Bears upset state champions Tweed Seagulls in the Meninga Cup competition.

Palm Beach Currumbin’s Tanu Nona in the 2020 Walters Cup where he was a star. (Image/Josh Woning)

Palm Beach Currumbin’s Tanu Nona in the 2020 Walters Cup where he was a star. (Image/Josh Woning)

 

TANU NONA (Palm Beach Currumbin SHS)

 

Nona has been a class act for Palm Beach Currumbin, initially starting the season at dummy half when the injured Oskar Bryant was unavailable, and then as a back-up halve.

Indeed the most celebrated combination in the Langer Trophy competition is the Bryant-Tom Weaver, hooker-halfback pairing, but PBC SHS never lost a beat with Nona starting in place of the unavailable Bryant.

He served his apprentice in Walters Cup last season where, playing No.9, he was a driving force in PBC’s success, and has now doubt been inspired by the professional, winning culture within the Langer Trophy group.

Palm Beach Currumbin’s Tanu Nona in the 2020 Walters Cup where he was a star. (Image/Josh Woning)

Palm Beach Currumbin’s Tanu Nona in the 2020 Walters Cup where he was a star. (Image/Josh Woning)

 

Alex Leapai of Mabel Park State High School. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)

Alex Leapai of Mabel Park State High School. (News Corp/Attila Csaszar)

ALEX LEAPAI (Mabel Park SHS)

 

Mabel Park SHS were the babies of the Langer Trophy and within thet nursery Mabel Park had the best 15-year-old in the competition.

Prop Alex Leapai junior played with maturity beyond his years in a team which played its heart out, without victory.

Tall and imposing, Leapai led the way in the middle of the ruck and it is little wonder the Sydney Roosters have signed him.

Leapai has an iron-willed work ethic.

He grew up watching his boxing father train in a home gym, and will never forget the off-seasons when his uncle, Queensland great Josh Papalii, would train with his dad as he tried to get an edge over fellow Raiders’ squad members.

Leapai junior loves his boxing but wants to play in the NRL – both for himself and for his dad.

 

JARDYN STILINOVICH-WATENE (Marsden SHS)

 

Jardyn Stilinovich-Watene has been slightly underrated for his contribution, but not by his teammates.

Indeed some of his best work is never seen by spectators and our online subscribers.

“He likes to talk and having him as my half, he directs you where to go wherever you are on the field,’’ said Marsden SHS backrower Jieye Mauai.

The cousin of NRL star Dallin, Stilinovich-Watene came to Logan to live after playing reserves with Keebra Park SHS.

But he has been a quiet achiever and never lost his way despite losing his dominant halfback, Cassius Cowley, for a long period.

LANGER CUP Semi Final Draw

STATE WIDE

LIVESTREAM SCHEDULE

Tuesday 24 August

3.00pm – Keebra v Coombabah (Walters Cup)

Wednesday 25 August

Mackay Jnr Rugby League

11am – Kirwan SHS v The Cathedral College (Aaron Payne)

12.15pm – Ignatius Park v St Brendan’s (Aaron Payne)

1.30pm – Ignatius Park v Mercy (Cowboys Challenge)

Webb Oval Yeppoon

5.30pm – St Brendan’s v Emmaus (Cowboys Challenge)

Langlands Park

3.30pm – Marsden SHS v Ipswich

5.00pm – Palm Beach Currumbin SHS v Keebra SHS

Marsden SHS

3.00pm – Marsden v Forest Lake (Walters Cup)

Dolphin Oval

2.00pm – Redcliffe v Ipswich (Walters Cup)

Slack Creek RLFC

4.00pm – Mabel Park v Ipswich (Langer Res)

Thursday 26 August

Palm Beach Currumbin SHS

3.00pm – PBC v Wavell (Walters Cup)

4.00pm – PBC v Wavell (Langer Res)

LANGER TROPHY

LIVESTREAM SCHEDULE

August 25:

Semi-finals: Langlands Park

3.30pm: Marsden SHS v Ipswich SHS

5pm: PBC SHS v Keebra SHS

September 1: (Wynnum)

Southern QLD Schoolboy Cup final

September 8: COVID Contingency Week

September 15: Phil Hall Cup (Redcliffe)

Northern Conference Final, Southern QLD winner v Northern QLD winner

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