Australian Schools: Proud skipper Flook flying high as New Zealand showdowns loom
He’s already had a massive year in 2019 but if you think Josh Flook is happy to rest on his laurels now, think again – after all, how often do you get the chance to captain your country?
The Queensland centre is preparing to lead his Australian Schools and U18 side’s bid to run through their tour of New Zealand undefeated, which would cap off the 17-year-old flyer’s monumental first season out of school.
After graduating on a GPS title win in 2018, the former Nudgee ace slotted into Brothers’ fold with aplomb as they rolled to the Queensland Premier Rugby grand final this year, the Reds Academy skipper was crowned under-19 player-of-the-year too.
“It hasn’t been a bad year, a pretty good first year out of school,” Flook said.
“[The captaincy] came as a big shock and I rang dad straight away, he said he had a tear or two running down his cheek when I told him and mum was the same, they’re both very proud, I am too.
“I didn’t expect it at all, I went into the last game (of the 2019 Academy Series) just hoping I’d make the team, I hadn’t looked any further than that so it was definitely a shock when they told me.
“It definitely helped being at Brothers, there’s a really good culture there and it’s quite similar to Nudgee in a way so I found it pretty easy to go straight into that environment, that helped me play some decent footy.”
The Aussies have a tour-opening, 39-7 win over Fiji under their belt but there’s no denying how big a task they face if they are to come through the three-game tour with an unblemished record.
Their next test is the New Zealand Barbarians on Monday before an inevitably epic showdown with the New Zealand Schoolboys on Friday, they’ll be gunning to snap a seven-year losing streak in the latter.
Australia hasn’t won a trans-Tasman contest since 2012, the closest they’ve come since that 16-14 victory at Auckland Grammar School was a one-point loss the following year in Sydney.
“The boys are all really excited, we had a good win over Fiji and then a great training session [on Sunday] morning too, we’re all really looking forward to the next two games,” Flook said.
“We’ve prepared well, we’re confident, so hopefully we can get the job done in both.”
From outside centre Flook led from the front and scored one of Australia’s seven tries in their 32-point romp against Fiji, he won’t be changing his approach against the Kiwis either.
“It’s more about actions for me,” he said.
“I try and lead from the front with the way I play on the field rather than saying too much or making any big speeches before games in the sheds.”
The Australian Schools and U18 outfit take on the New Barbarians at Hamilton Boys’ High School on Monday from 10.05am (AEST), and then face their Kiwi counterparts at St Paul’s Collegiate from 1.05pm on Friday afternoon.
The 27-man touring squad was named following the 2019 Academy Series and also took into account the entire schoolboy calendar.
Players from all five academy sides – linked to the Reds, Waratahs, Melbourne Rebels, ACT Brumbies and Western Force – were selected.