Townsville rugby league nursery Kirwan State High School will be flying the Queensland flag in tomorrow’s GIO Schoolboys Cup semi-final against ACT’s Erindale College at Jack Manski Oval.

Kirwan are one step away from playing in the national final after last week’s nail-biting 28-26 quarter-final win over Westfields Sports High, and are the only Queensland team left in the prestigious competition.

The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys have a close association with Kirwan – and other schools in the region – with the NQ leg of the tournament, the Aaron Payne Cup, named after the former Cowboys hooker and Kirwan student, who played 219 games for the club over 11 seasons from 2002.

Kirwan won the Aaron Payne Cup – played between school teams from the Cairns, Mackay, Rockhampton and Townville regions – with a final victory of fierce rivals Ignatius Park College to qualify for the GIO Cup as top seeds.

Coach Dave Ackers says the school’s success in the GIO Cup to date – and the overall strength of North Queensland rugby league school – was proof that things were working well in the North.

“We’ve got a great association with the Cowboys and the Aaron Payne Cup, we’re the only Queensland school left in the competition, so we feel very proud to be representing the region on a national stage,” Ackers said.

The south-east corner of Queensland run a similar round-robin tournament to the Aaron Payne Cup, called the Allan Langer Shield after the Broncos, Maroons and Australian champion.

Tomorrow’s match kicks off at 12.30pm, with Sydney school Patrician Brothers and The Hills Sports High to contest the other semi-final.

Erindale College is the former school of current Cowboys National Youth Competition coach Todd Payten, whose team made the 1996 national schoolboys final.