Toyota Cup chance for youngster
BALLINA junior rugby representative and Seagulls rugby league first-grader Michael Thomas is 80 minutes away from a grand final appearance when his Canberra Raiders team plays minor premier South Sydney in the Toyota Cup Under-20 preliminary final at ANZ Stadium in Sydney tonight.
Awaiting the winners are the Warriors, who last night won through to the season decider by defeating the Bulldogs 23-16 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Thomas’ Raiders, however, must defy history as the Green Machine youngsters have yet to defeat the Rabbitohs since the NRL Toyota Cup’s inception, including a 38-20 loss this season.
The Raiders ended the regular season fifth and last week defeated North Queensland 22-18 in a semi-final.
The 19-year-old Thomas’ rugby union coach, Eoin Johnston, said his former charge was holding his own in the Toyota Cup.
“I’ve watched his progress as much as I can,” Johnston said.
“He’s held his position as a winger all year and is always very competitive.
“I think early on in the season he may have struggled but he has since looked very good.”
Thomas, who also played in Lismore as a junior, has scored eight tries for Canberra this season.