Tumut Minor League products Jack Hillier and Ethan Gilchrist have been shining the spotlight on Tumut junior rugby league in recent times.
Jack and Ethan have been mainstays in the Canberra Raiders under 16 side, which competes in the Harold Matthews Cup competition.
The Harold Matthews Cup is the premier representative competition for 15 and 16-year-old rugby league players in the nation.
It includes 15 sides and is considered a nursery for the NRL and their future stars.
Canberra coach Billy Thompson was full of admiration of both Tumut talents. “Ethan and Jack are very good kids, both on and off the field,” Thompson said.
“Jack is a workhorse who is developing his skills immensely and continues to mature into a very good player.
“Ethan is a prodigious talent who has really found a home playing in the middle of the ruck. I can see both boys developing through our system over the next 4-years and having big futures with Canberra”.
Running over nine rounds, the cup begins prior to the regular season kick-off and gives elite players a chance to compete at the highest representative level. Players are than able to utilise their experience and bring valuable skills back to their regular season clubs. Jack Hillier has readily acknowledged his opportunity and wants to help his teammates.
“I would have to say my general knowledge of the game has improved and the experience of playing at a faster pace is something I want to bring back to my club footy”, said Hillier.
Ethan Gilchrist has also taken onboard some valuable tools during his time with Canberra.
“Playing with Canberra has really taught me about decision making and how my own decisions impact the whole team moving forward”, said Gilchrist
“I want to be able to come back to club football and help my teammates understand that decision making is really important for our team”.
The Raiders Harold Matthews side is currently 11th on the table and must win their remaining three games if they are to compete for a top-8 finals berth.
This Saturday, they’ll travel to Leichhardt Oval as they take on the 14th placed Western Suburb Magpies.
They will be facing a Magpies side that have struggled in recent times, having been defeated by a combined 32 points in their last two matches.
The Raiders will be looking to bounce back to winning form after suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Penrith Panthers last weekend.
The team trailed 20-2 at half time before coming back to level the scores at 20-all. Unfortunately, poor discipline cost them in the end as they gave away a penalty goal in the final moments of the match and went down 22-20.
The lineups for the upcoming match have been announced and Jack has been named in the starting front row, while Ethan has maintained his position at starting hooker.
In what is a testament to the strength and depth of the rugby league talent in Tumut, these two young players have really held their own in such a strong representative competition.
This will hopefully allow them to draw on this experience and development as they progress from the Tumut Minor League system into the Tumut Blues senior teams.