Eight Far North Coast players in 1st XV at ‘Wallaby nursery’
EIGHT Far North Coast players are in The Southport School's first XV rugby team this year.
TSS is a boarding school on the Gold Coast and has been a pathway for former and current Wallabies.
Wallabies James Slipper, Scott Higginbotham, Rob Simmons, Ben Tapuai, Luke Morahan and recently retired sec- ond-rower Nathan Sharpe are all graduates.
Queensland Reds fullback Jono Lance also came through the system.
"To have five current Wallabies come from our program is incredible," TSS director of rugby Adrian Blundell said.
"TSS rugby has won a reputation as something of a Wallaby nursery."
The FNC wave that has entered the school comprises Jake Lyon and Joey Fittock (Ballina), Charles and George Chapman (Coraki), Isaac Fines-Leleiwasa (Byron Bay), Fred Dorough, PJ Van der Berg (Casuarina) and Ben Turnbull (Tweed Heads).
Fittock is the latest recruit and will finish year 11 and 12 at the school.
"It wasn't the plan to have eight players from the area here at once, it's just the way it happened," Blundell said.
"We've always had a good relationship with FNC Rugby and play a lot of games against them.
"It's a great choice for the guys to come here because they can be part of a high-level program and still go home on the weekends.
"Some of them have been here since Year 8 now."
Lismore rugby players Sam and Sean Cox were part of the first XV in 2009 and 2010 and won a GPS premiership.
They also played in the Queensland Schoolboys team that won at the National Championships in 2010.
Sean went on to for the Gold Coast Breakers in the Queensland Rugby Union competition and was in the Australian Under-20s squad last year.
"I'm not saying these guys will all go on and play for the Wallabies but there is definitely a pathway there," Blundell said.
Simmons, Slipper and Tapuai won back-to-back premierships at the school in 2006 and 2007.