Australian Schools Championships: Eight returning players to watch

Each year, a handful of future Wallabies are unearthed at the Australian Schools Championships.

By this time next week, we’ll be talking about a number of potential stars but before that, here are eight returning players to keep an eye on.

Apenisa Driti – ACT

After playing his way into the Australian Schools Barbarians side last year, Apenisa Driti was chased heavily by several NRL clubs but its understood the giant prop has been signed by Rugby Australia, thanks to their new ‘Fighting Fund’. At 118kg, Driti will be hard to miss.

Joseph Suaalii – Combined States

The 15-year old boy prodigy is another being chased heavily by clubs in several codes and will get a chance to prove he can match it with the big boys after earning a spot in the Combined States side. Suaalii didn’t get a whole lot of opportunity during the NSW Schools trials, but if he finds space next week, he’ll be very tough to stop.

Joey Walton – NSW I

Central Coast playmaker Joey Walton was one of the finds of the tournament in 2017 and earned a spot in the Barbarians squad for his efforts. Walton played No.10 for CHS in the trials but will shift to inside centre for NSW and will provide plenty of spark for the side in sky blue.

Brendan Jimenez – ACT

In one of the best 15 minute stints of footy you’ll see, Brendan Jimenez scored two brilliant individual tries and set up another to help ACT come from behind to beat NSW II last year. The wiry but dynamic fullback will benefit from his experiences of last year and will likely tear opposition backlines apart next week.

Jangala Bennett – QLD I

Electric Nudgee winger Jangala Bennett has some of the best feet in Australian rugby and they’ll be on show again for a second straight year on the end of an exciting QLD I backline.

Mosese Tuipulotu – Victoria

Brother of Australian U20s and Melbourne Rebels centre Sione, Mosese Tuipulotu will add plenty of punch to the Victorian midfield, just as his brother did a few years ago. Playing behind a big Victorian forward pack, Tuipulotu will get his side over the advantage line and will cause plenty of headaches for his opposition all week.

Carter Gordon – QLD I

QLD I flyhalf Carter Gordon got a taste of the Australian Schools Championship last year when he played off the bench for QLD II. This time around, he’ll be running the show and if he plays like he did in the QLD Schools trials, it’ll be well worth the price of admission.

Donny Freeman – NSW I

Kinross openside flanker Donny Freeman played out of his skin at both the NSW and Australian Champs last year and returns in 2018 with more size and experience. The hard working, physical No.7 is good over the ball and hits like a freight train. There will be some nervous No.10’s around Riverview next week after they watch Freeman play.