PATHWAYS: Former Crushettes player Mariah Storch is an example of how regional players can advance to state level.
PATHWAYS: Former Crushettes player Mariah Storch is an example of how regional players can advance to state level. Allan Reinikka ROK250217anines1

Highlands Hit Out to give regional players shot at rep level

RUGBY LEAGUE: It's hoped this weekend's Central Highlands Hit Out will not only provide pathways for regional players, but encourage talent to get involved in the ever-expanding sport.

Six men's teams, four women's teams and combined under-16 and under-19 sides will battle it out at Emerald for a chance to nab a spot in the selections. Teams in the men's women's, under-16s, under-18s and under-20s will be selected and announced next weekend.

"The selection will lead to the next level. The men's and women's will head to the Senior 4th Battalion on the Sunshine Coast on May 3-5,” QRL Operations Manager Cameron Stallard said.

"The under-18s and under-20s will head to Murgon on June 29-30 to play in the Youth 47th Battalion and the under-16s will play in Gladstone on May 11-12 against Rockhampton, Central West and Gladstone.”

Players have a chance to be selected as part of the Central Crows team, and then potentially even for Queensland.

"We've had three A-grade men and three under-20s make it to Crows and 10 women make it to the Crows Emerging and A-grade women's side,” Stallard said.

"It's huge that we're on the map with selections. Last year we had Mariah Storch represent Queensland at the women's State of Origin in Sydney.

"A few A-grade boys made it to Queensland Rangers and last year 10 players were selected in the under-18 and under-20s side.

"Development pathways are progressing and it's good news. It's massively important.”

Stallard said Bluff would be "hungry to make amends” after losing the grand final the past two years. Last year the side was defeated by Blackwater 24-16.

"Dysart are also very keen and have recruited very well,” he said. "Bluff's Clayton Kilpatrick and Logan Sullivan will be returning and will bolster the side, as well as former Moranbah player and Capras fullback Reece Baker.”

Bluff's Chris Conway will also be a stand-out, with the team's former half back Mitch Wyatt taking on the A-grade men's coaching role.

With Capras playing trial games in the Highlands over the coming months, Stallard hopes regional players will be encouraged to stay in the sport.

This weekend

The CQ Capras will also be launching the Central Highlands Elite Player Academy today.

Highlands Hit Out runs from noon-9pm at McIndoe Park, Emerald.