Playing for school and country

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New league: Blayke Brailey, 16, is ready to represent Australia. Photo: Kitty Beale

Blayke Brailey will represent both his school and country after being selected to the Australian Schoolboys Rugby League team.

The Aquinas Catholic College Menai Year 11 student , 16,  is the youngest to make the 17-man squad which will play two test matches against New Zealand in the September school holidays.

Blayke is the only Year 11 student and the second person in his family to make the squad. His older brother Jayden, 18, played in the squad in 2014 while a Year 12 student at Aquinas.

“I was pretty stoked,” Blayke said.

“I couldn’t believe it because my brother made it last year. There’s a selection process. It’s four or five stages you go through to make the Australian team.”

Blayke began the sport 10 years ago and belongs to the Aquinas Colts Junior Rugby League Club. He also plays at representative level for the Cronulla Sharks NSW CCC Under 18’s.

“I used to play five-eighth and then two years ago I changed to hooker,” he said.

“We were a bit short of numbers one day so they asked me to be hooker. I’ve been there ever since.”

It’s a great achievement for someone so young.

– Peter Burke

Blayke will travel to the Gold Coast with the rest of the Australian team for a week of training before the first test against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium on September 27. They will regroup for a second test at Wynnum-Manly on October 2.

Australian School Boys Rugby League trainer Peter Burke, who also teaches at Aquinas, said Blayke’s selection to the squad was a great achievement that had made his school and family proud.

“It’s a great achievement for someone so young, and in particular following on from his brother’s selection last year,” he said. “It’s just fantastic for the school, two years in a row.”

“My job for the moment is to check on their health and wellbeing. A lot of the team play SG Ball and Under 20’s for their different clubs, so I just have to keep an eye on them and make sure they are fit going into the camp. The boys have a week to prepare for the first test. It’s actually before the Queensland Cup Grand Final so there should be a decent crowd there.”

“The second week my job is recovery and to make sure that they’re injury free, fit and healthy. Because this is Australian School Boys level we need them at optimal fitness to perform.

“The Kiwi test team that is coming out is a very strong team. It’s going to be a really tough competition.”

Mr Burke said the Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League (ASSRL) were quick to remind players they should aim for a balance between school and sport. “One of their key messages is that you must have an education, you must have a career outside of Rugby League,” he said.

“The officials, when they select, drum it into them not to put all of their eggs into one basket because it only takes one injury and they’re finished, so they need a balance in their life in terms of their schooling, sport, family, and friends.”

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