Chris Feauai-Sautia, then 17 and at Brisbane State High School, in 2012.
Chris Feauai-Sautia, then 17 and at Brisbane State High School, in 2012.

Revealed: best GPS players of past 25 years

ELTON Flatley took the greatest leap for GPS rugby over the past 25 years, jumping from Nudgee College straight into Super Rugby's professional era.

When the shaggy-haired "Flats" signed his first contract for the Queensland Reds, he was still 18 and didn't own a car.

Queensland rugby legend Paul McLean would drive him to and from contract talks.

Flatley splashed out on a new surfboard and shouted Nudgee mates steaks and beers at the Breakfast Creek Hotel when he signed that ­lucrative deal to play for Queensland in 1996.

The kid who had guided the renowned Nudgee College to a hat-trick of GPS premierships (1993-94-95) was in the big time.

He immediately looked at home, tackling the great Jonah Lomu front-on at Ballymore against the Blues in 1996.

The symmetry is pure because it expertly sums up the baton change always being enacted down the eras in school rugby's elite competition over the past 100 years.

McLean, in more hirsute days, had himself worn the No.10 jersey at Nudgee with distinction before ushering Flatley towards the maroon Queensland jersey he had worn for 100 games.

Elton Flatley in action for Nudgee College in 1995.
Elton Flatley in action for Nudgee College in 1995.

The young Flatley was mature beyond his years, guiding the firsts at Nudgee at age 15 - the rules today prevent others emulating his four years in the firsts.

He would be the pick at No.10 in a GPS All Stars XV named from the past 25 years.

Any such team selection will stir debate and challenging phone calls on Monday because it's not just the impossible case of who to leave out but where to fit players when they are "in".

Flyhalf/Halfback

Flatley's versatility means he can be swung to inside centre for this All Star team to create room at flyhalf for the young Quade Cooper and his magic mullet.

The young Cooper has always been an entertainer and his audacious handling and passing pushed the limits in Churchie's 2005 premiership side.

Will Genia's 90-Test roll with the Wallabies makes him a lock for the halfback job, although even he jokes he started at Brisbane Boys' College as "a fat little winger".

State High halfback Moses Rauluni, who played 53 Tests for Fiji and the Pacific Islanders, could always be back-up because every tour needs an expert DJ.

Rocky Elsom makes a break for the Wallabies in the Tri Nations against South Africa.
Rocky Elsom makes a break for the Wallabies in the Tri Nations against South Africa.

UNLUCKY: Ben Lucas (GT), Cullum Hughes (IGS), James Tuttle (NC).

Centres/Outside backs

James O'Connor was a quicksilver factor at flyhalf in Nudgee teams, defying all the doubters who said he was too small to forge a Test career - he played 44-Test.

O'Connor was also the youngest Super Rugby debutant in history, at age 17 in 2008, and we'll pick him in his best Test position on the wing.

Do you pick a player in this merit side on what he's done in the pro ranks or what he did when a dominant schoolboy playing a record 11 times for the Australian Schoolboys?

You do if his name is Chris Feauai-Sautia, a beast for State High when his famous hamstrings didn't interfere.

Melbourne boy Digby Ioane was shaped as a staccato-stepping finisher deluxe when he arrived at Terrace.

The 60m chip-and-chase specials started for Luke Morahan from fullback at The Southport School.

Nathan Sharpe (left), then a student at The Southport School in 1993, receives an award for best forward from John Eales.
Nathan Sharpe (left), then a student at The Southport School in 1993, receives an award for best forward from John Eales.

UNLUCKY: Joe Tomane (NC), Samu Kerevi (BSHS), Jonah Placid (TGS), Steve Kefu (BSHS), Ben Tapuai (TSS), Aidan Toua (Churchie).

Back row

A hugely competitive area but first picked is Rocky Elsom, the man-child who scored a ­remarkable 17 tries from No.8 for Nudgee in their 2000 premiership.

Churchie's David Pocock, a centre in Year 12, and NC's Hugh McMeniman were highly influential.

Scott Higginbotham played 34 Tests but he was a surfer, a soccer player until 17 and basketballer before rugby took hold for the casual Third XV forward.

UNLUCKY: John Roe (BBC), Ed Quirk (Churchie), Richard Brown (NC), Jarrad Butler (TSS), Scott Higginbotham (TSS), Jake Schatz (Churchie).

Front row

James Slipper was a No.8-turned-prop when he finished at TSS in their champion 2007 side, while Nick Stiles just made the cut for this XV by finishing at Terrace in 1992.

Brisbane Grammar product Stephen Moore is the standout choice for hooker.

UNLUCKY:James Hanson (GT), Alex Mafi (NC).

The only thing missing when you select a team like this is someone to play so here goes ... you pick the winner!

GPS BARBARIANS: Rod Davies (IGS), Peter Hynes (BSHS), Mat Rogers (TSS), Karmichael Hunt (Churchie), Dom Shipperley (Nudgee), Matt Toomua (BSHS), Nic Berry (IGS), Curtis Browning (BSHS), Liam Gill (GT), David Croft (GT), Rob Simmons (TSS), Mark Chisholm (GT), Paul Alo-Emile (BSHS), Sean Hardman (Nudgee), Maile Ngauamo (IGS).

GPS All Stars 1992-2017

15 Luke Morahan (TSS)

14 James O'Connor (Nudgee)

13 Chris Feauai-Sautia (BSHS)

12 Elton Flatley (Nudgee)

11 Digby Ioane (GT)

10 Quade Cooper (Churchie)

9 Will Genia (BBC)

8 Rocky Elsom (Nudgee)

7 David Pocock (Churchie)

6 Hugh McMeniman (Nudgee)

5 Nathan Sharpe (TSS)

4 James Horwill (BBC)

3 James Slipper (TSS)

2 Stephen Moore (BGS)

1 Nick Stiles (GT)



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