North Queensland Toyota Cowboys fans chasing a glimpse of the next generation of young stars are encouraged to arrive at Queensland Country Bank Stadium a little earlier on Saturday.
The Cowboys are set to take on the Gold Coast Titans in a Development Game with the highest rated under 19s rising stars from both clubs pitted head to head.
The crux of the Cowboys team will consist of players from the Young Guns program, who have been training under the tutelage of Glenn Hall, Ben Jeffries and Jared Hoare since November, while players from North Queensland’s Brisbane and Rockhampton Academies round out the side.
Here are four players Cowboys fans should keep an eye out for on Saturday afternoon:
JAKE BOURKE (TOWNSVILLE)
Bourke will skipper the side against the Titans. A game-managing half, Bourke has impressed with his maturity and composure in the Young Guns program. An Ignatius Park College product, Bourke was selected in the Emerging Maroons under 18s squad in 2020 and has been a standout for the Blackhawks under 21s in the opening rounds of the Hastings Deering Colts competition this season.
RAGARIVE WAVIK (TOWNSVILLE)
Still a student at Kirwan State High School, Wavik has enjoyed a stellar start to 2021. Wavik was voted the ‘Player to Bank On’ for the most outstanding player in the under 18s Mal Meninga Cup. Playing for the Townsville Blackhawks, the gifted fullback ran riot throughout the competition, including a four-try rampage against the Northern Pride in Round 2.
PAUL BRYAN (MACKAY)
Signed to the Cowboys Mackay Academy as a 15-year-old, Bryan relocated to Townsville in the pre-season for the Young Guns program, but still travels back to Mackay on weekends to play for the Cutters. A hulking middle forward, Bryan began the season in the under 18s, but has since graduated to the under 21s.
JAI HANSEN (ROCKHAMPTON)
A new signing in 2021, Hansen continues to ply his trade in Rockhampton for the CQ Capras’ Mal Meninga Cup team. The Cathedral College student is a crafty dummy-half who will come off the bench for the Cowboys on Saturday. Hansen is set to relocate to Townsville at the end of the year for the Young Guns program.
The Development Game kicks off at 5.05pm on Saturday afternoon with the XXXX Derby between the Cowboys and Broncos to follow at 7.35pm.