Schoolboys in a league of their own

NSW selective sports high schools have secured three of four spots in the premier school rugby league competition.

Image: Hills Sport High’s Joshua Mocevakaca during the NRL Schoolboy Cup Quarterfinal between Hills Sports High and Holy Cross College. Photo: Justin Lloyd, News Corp Australia.

A NSW sports high school is guaranteed a spot in next week’s grand final of the 2020 NRL Schoolboy Cup.

Three of the four teams in Wednesday’s semifinals come from selective sports high schools with Westfields Sports High facing off against Hills Sports High and Endeavour Sports High taking on Patrician Brothers Blacktown.

Westfields are the reigning NSW Champions, but coach Troy Weeden said his team was expecting a tough fight against the Hills.

“I think it’s going to be close,” he said. “A lot of the Hills team are backing up from last year and have the experience, whereas we haven’t put the same side on the field for the last three games.”

“I think it could go either way so it could come down to a ref’s call or an error.”

Although the Patrician Brothers have been a regular fixture in the Schoolboy Cup finals, Mr Weeden said Endeavour had the potential to cause an upset.

“Endeavour is the dark horse – they've been very well coached and I think they could cause a surprise.”

Endeavour Sports High School principal James Kozlowski said their team was well prepared for tomorrow’s game.

"The boys are always extremely proud to wear the Endeavour jersey in this prestigious schoolboy competition. Many of our former students who go on to play first grade in the NRL tell us that their games for Endeavour were some of the most enjoyable of their career," he said.

With many of the players in Year 12, they had had to juggle HSC and end of school exams while training and playing.

“We constantly remind our student athletes that a sporting career can be over in an instant, but an education is for life,” Mr Kozlowski said.

“Reputable research and our own experience demonstrates that academic achievement and sporting success are not mutually exclusive. "

With COVID-19 shutting down junior league competitions, Mr Weeden said the Schoolboy Cup had taken on extra significance.

This year’s games had been live streamed sending viewership figures for the games “through the roof”.

It had also attracted the attention of NRL club recruiters who had been able to get a close look at upcoming talent.

“The recruitment guys will be watching these games because they’re the only games that have been on this year,” Mr Weeden, who works part-time for the Canberra Raiders NRL side as a talent scout, said.

He said many of the competition’s players were already attached to NRL clubs and had the aspiration to play professionally.

Mr Weeden said the NRL supported schools by insisting players meet attendance and academic standard to qualify to play in the competition.

Highlighting the importance of the series, the NRL has secured BankWest Stadium in Parramatta for the semifinals

“The kids are quite excited to be playing at such a good venue, it’s given them a real buzz,” Mr Weeden said.

Westfields Sports High versus Hills Sports High will kick off at 11am on Wednesday with the clash between Patrician Brothers and Endeavour scheduled for 1:30pm.

The 2020 NRL Schoolboy Cup NSW Grand Final is due to be held at 2pm on 11 November at Leichhardt Oval.

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