The Goose Step – 2023 Junior Boys Grand Final Team Edition

Welcome to the Goose Step!
It’s Grand Final Week in the juniors, which means we get a bit of extra out of the Goose Step… I mean who needs sleep right?

Now there is going to be a Junior Grand Final Program, but with 8 maleteams in the finals, this writer thought it would be fun to create a side from the 8 teams remaining from 13s, 14s, 15s and 17s Boys teams.

Now anyone not on this list, please do not take heart as there are so many great players in our competition, and this is an arbitrary list for hype around our grand final. Also there are many players outside the grand final sides who are amazing players, but please bare with us as we only pick from the teams on Sunday.

Also if you made the list last year, we tried to go for new players. Everyone needs the love!

Anyway, picking at least two players from every team lets get into it –

1. Fullback – Ben Cottam – Rockingham Sharks – U15s Boys
Starting off with one of the big guns, Ben Cottam is a brilliant rugby league player. Fast, strong with amazing evasive skills, he is a powerful exponent of the game. While some players glide over the ground, Ben generates his speed through power which, along with his lowered centre of gravity, makes him incredibly hard to tackle. A capable kicker, accomplished goal kicker and ball player, he is one of the top players in his age group and thoroughly deserves his place in this team. With a bit of swagger about him, he is almost smiling when bringing the ball back to the defensive line.

2. Wing – Sam Fifita – Kalamunda Bulldogs – U13s Boys
One of the real stars of the final series has been a young centre/outside back from the Kalamunda Bulldogs. A hard working no nonsense kind of player, Sam has been equally adept at scoring tries, saving them, and getting through the hard yakka. One of those players who is always near or around the ball, his work ethic is second to none, and while he isn’t the biggest player, he would run through a brick wall if his coach asked him. A rugged defender and ball carrier, he is building a reputation as one of the biggest competitors in the game.

3. Centre – Tamati Tawhitapou – Willagee Bears – U14s Boys
Yes he plays in the forwards for the Willagee Bears. But he had to be included in this side, especially considering the speed he possesses. Equally comfortable on an edge or in the middle of the field, Tamati is a tsunami on the field. Opposition teams cannot switch off for one second, as at 14 years old, he possesses the size, strength and speed to hurt you from anywhere on the field. Possessing a killer fend and footwork that would make seasoned backs weep, he could be the most dynamic ball runner in the WA juniors. 

4. Centre – Quinton Coulter – Rockingham Sharks – U17s Boys
Quinton is one of those players that can play in any position in the backs, with supreme confidence, and perform at a high level. He is big, fast and contains a unique ability to do everything at 100 miles an hour, without losing composure or having a high error rate. A solid defender, he is also a great decision maker in defence and will make the right decisions on the fly without hesitation. A try noted try scorer, when the ball ends up on his edge, the defence should be on high alert otherwise it could be good night.

5. Wing – Legend Koro-Hikawera – Willagee Bears – U14s Boys
An out an out star in our younger age groups, the physical characteristics are there for all the world to see. Big. Fast. Strong. Great footwork. The ability to offload and play before the line. That stuff comes easily to Legend. Its the mental part of the game that has the question mark at times. Making the right decisions. Letting the opposition get to him. Can he, along with his team mates maintain the same level of discipline, along with his insane unquestioned talent? Time will tell, but this kid can play. 

6. Five-Eight – Ricco Lilii – Kalamunda Bulldogs – U15s Boys
A smiling, humble and happy person off the field, he becomes this different persona when injected onto the ground. Ricco is a bit of an enigma. Not the largest player on the field, he has a great understanding of speed, momentum and balance that allows him to run over larger players, and dominate those same players in defence. He has a great natural feel for the game, and apart from being accused of being quiet at times, his skills are of an elite ball player. A great passing and kicking game, his battle with the next half on the weekend will be worth coming to watch alone.

7. Halfback – Tamarau Haimona – Rockingham Sharks – U15s Boys
Tamarau is the conductor of the train that is the U15 Rockingham Sharks. Oozing talent and extremely blessed in terms of speed, skill and power, he is also a student of the game who is constantly looking to get better. He is constantly assessing the opposition and looking to take advantage of anything he sees. Has one of the best selective passing games in the business, he is also a huge running threat, which is probably under-utilised at times because of the weapons around him. Will be a big part of the Sharks push for the title this year.

8. Prop – Brodie Shaw – Kalamunda Bulldogs – U15s Boys
A full throwback to old school front rowers, the only way to explain Brodie is “Brutish”. One of the hardest hitters in the junior game, he is a ball of granite. Whether he is running the ball, or meeting a ball carrier, everyone involved in the tackle feels it. Quicker than he looks, once he gets going he is hard to stop and defenders will have to sacrifice their bodies and get in the way of Brodie or risk a linebreak, that Brodie is more than capable of finishing himself. A quiet character, on the field he loves the tough stuff and will be front and centre for the Bulldogs this weekend.

9. Hooker – Asic Wade-Evans – Ellenbrook Rabbitohs – U14s Boys
Playing in the halves this year for the bunnies, we have thrown their talismatic captain into the 9 here for the basic reason, that this kid can play anywhere. Strong and willing, he never shies away from the contest and is more than happy to play pretty throw around football, as much as he is willing to play down in the dirt. A complete player, he can ball play, run and kick with equal aplomb and works super hard on both sides of the ball to do everything he can to keep the Rabbitohs in the contest. While not the most vocal leader, his team mates always straighten and listen when he does speak.

10. Prop – Jack Bullard – Joondalup Giants – U17s Boys – CAPTAIN
Plays full games, and takes a hitup or two in almost every single set. Leads with his voice as well as his actions. Always chasing back, making cover tackles and working himself to a standstill. Welcome to the complete works of Mr Jack Bullard. One of those kids other players just love playing with, he epitomizes effort and is a true believer in making the 1 percenters matter. I great team man, his contributions are not flashy, and won’t show up on many high light reels. And more often than not he isn’t going to be scoring 60 metre run away tries. But when players are tired and look to Jack, they see a team mate who is never going to let them down.

11. Second Rower – Trey Emery – Rockingham Sharks – U17 Boys
There are some big names in the Sharks 17s side, including guys like Leeder, Johnson, Te Rauna, Antonelli and Gwiazdzinski. But it is the unheralded and humble Emery who makes it onto this list. Comfortable on the edge, but able to do a job in the middle, he has quietly gained some fans as a no nonsense second rower, who plays well above his reputation. Fast, with good footwork and ball skills, he is a handful for oppositions on the edge and makes room for those around him with his presence. But its his defence that has come to the fore this year. When he chooses to, Emery can come in and hit like a sledgehammer, ironing out attackers for fun in recent games.

12. Second Rower – Cruz Beazley – Joondalup Giants – U17s Boys
Cruz’s rise in the competition has been meteoric. Going from “a brave but slight edge player” to a superstar anywhere on the field, Cruz’s evolution has been a bit surprising. His willingness and heart have always been there to see, but his body has let him down in recent times with injuries and size always seeming to hold the Giants firebrand back. But roll on 2023, where the gym and the CAS program have made Cruz into a force to be reckoned with. Fast, strong and with size added, he is a workaholic who can hurt a side on an edge or in the middle of the field.

13. Lock – Oscar Sio – Willagee Bears – U13s Boys
The unassuming Oscar Sio is an enigma. A hurricane on the field, he is a whirlwind of power and speed, using his physical gifts with controlled aggression to impose his will on the game. All the while maintaining a humble visage in between plays and off the field. He is hungry for work in defence, and is more interested in making tackles effectively than putting on super big highlights, which is an extremely mature approach. Highly coachable, he is just getting better all the time.

14. Hooker/Lock – Taniela Te Rauna  – Rockingham Sharks – U15s Boys
There are some players, who at a very young age just know who and what they are. Self Awareness. And Taniela is one of those. “Tun Tun” as he is affectionately known, plays both hooker and lock at an extremely high level for someone his age, and understands his job and his strengths without reserve. Fast, with a low centre of gravity he is a dominant ball runner, who has the quickest play the ball in the junior age group, which allows his amazing team mates to play off the back of him. An adept ball player who can setup those around him, he is a great Mr Fix It.

15. Forward – Daykota Tapu – Willagee Bears – U13 Boys
I don’t think anyone in rugby league would accuse Daykota of being a rocket scientist. But if you give him an instruction, the young Tapu will go out and do it. And do it very well. Run hard and tackle hard. Those are normally the simplest instructions a coach can give you, and Daykota does it better than most. A rugged ball carrier who eats up metres for fun, he also hits hard time and again in defence, and always shows up for more work. One of those players you can always count on to be there, he even chases backs down in cover tackles and supports his team mates through the middle. A great working prop.

16. Forward – LJ Tongi – Ellenbrook Rabbitohs – U14s Boys
Young LJ doesn’t talk much. Normally being talked to by his coaches or captains, the quiet Tongi is a humble and quiet young man, who is happy to nod that he understood and get back to work. But it is the biggest mistake to judge him on his humble demeanour. A devastating edge forward, he possesses all the tools you would want in a rugby league back rower. Tall, fast with great power, a solid fend and footwork that beat fullbacks all ends up, he is a threat on the edge everytime he gets anywhere near the ball. Add in one of the better offloading abilities in the junior ranks and thats a big future there.

17. Utility – Cassius Lilii – Kalamunda Bulldogs – U13s Boys
We had one more spot to give in this side, and it goes to another of the Lilii brothers. Young Cassius can literally play in any position. Big enough to be in the forwards, fast enough to play in the backs, and smart enough to play in the halves, he can literally do it all. An important spine player for the Bulldogs, his ability to go from great individual talent this year, to fantastic leader and team man, has brought his personal game to another level. While always a talent, it is the way he makes those around him better in 2023 that has added another massive string to his game.

I hope you enjoyed the write up.
See you at the Juniors on Sunday. Grand Final Programme will be live Friday.