QLD Premier Rugby: Five guns that deserve a crack at the next level after impressing in 2019

By Finn Morton; Photo – Brendan Hertel/QRU Media

The 2019 Premier Grade season came to an end on Sunday, with the University of Queensland pulling off an upset against Minor Premiers Brothers in the decider. The Students put an end to a late fight-back from the Filth; securing what was once unlikely: Hospital Cup success, with a 31-26 victory.

While Brother’s dominance this season was reflected at the Grand Final Breakfast, with the club and its players collecting five of the eight major Premier Rugby accolades, all Premier Grade players will be hoping for more Rugby in 2019.

Strong, consistent performances from five of Premier Grade’s finest may have been enough as they look for high honours in the NRC and beyond.

Issac Henry, Wests

The Brisbane Boys’ College Old Boy performed strongly throughout the Premier Grade season. Henry was rewarded for his consistency with the award for the highest points scorer in the competition, totalling at 166-points during the regular season.

The inside-centre has played with fellow up-and-comers Liam Dillon and Carter Gordon inside him this season, but didn’t let that spur poor performances. In fact, both of those players could’ve made this list – so watch out for them too.

Henry was a standout for Queensland Country in the URC, the Under 19s Rugby Championship, in its inaugural outing last year. Henry showed then that he was ready for Premier Grade Rugby, and he’s showed now that he’s ready for the NRC.

Josh Flook, Brothers

The seventeen-year-old – yes, seventeen – had a great debut season in Premier Grade. Not only did the winger get to play in a Grand Final at Ballymore, the last one before the development there too, but he held his own every time he played in the top grade.

Flook was presented with the award for the under nineteens Premier Grade player of the season at the Grand Final Breakfast at the Regatta Hotel last Tuesday.

The Nudgee Old Boy could push for an NRC spot, but at seventeen, does he need another year before he’s given his shot on the national stage? Flook has the talent, so his opportunity at the next stage of his Rugby development really does seem like a matter of when not if.

Jacobus Van Eeden, UQ

Jacobus really made the number 9 jersey for the Red Heavies his own in 2019, replacing current Reds halfback Tate McDermott until his return in the preliminary final.

The halfback showcased his threat throughout the 2019 season, with a great passing game combined with the occasional show-and-go in search of the try-line.

In what was a must-win game against Wests at home, the scrumhalf crossed for his second try of the match with the final play of the game; securing a vital win for his side in the process.

The threat Van Eeden poses is genuine, and NRC teams could be intrigued by this. While it may take another year until he’s given his chance at the next level, if he keeps performing the way he has, he’ll get his chance.

Harry Wilson, Brothers

Wilson was a standout in 2019, reminding everyone why he won the under nineteens player of the year last season.

The Number Eight performed strongly for the Junior Wallabies in Argentina, as well as at the Oceania Championship. These commitments prevented Wilson from running out for the Filth for the entirety of the season, yet he still won the Alec Evans Medal for the Premier Grade Player of the Year.

Wilson is yet to make his Reds debut, but has been a member of the Super Rugby sides squad throughout 2019. If his form continues into his second NRC campaign, why wouldn’t he be in line for higher honours in 2020?

In fact, could he push for a starting spot at the Reds by the time next season comes to a close? We’ll have to wait and see, but Wilson has shown he can perform under pressure on the big stage – so don’t rule him out.

Rod Seib, Brothers

Yes, I’ve got a coach on this list.

Seib helped restore Brothers to the level that is expected of them after they finished seventh overall last season. Despite losing the Grand Final, Brothers are truly back up and running.

Seib was rewarded for his work with Brothers with the positions of both Queensland Country and Queensland Reds Academy Head Coach. This also isn’t the first time that he’s coached at the NRC level, having coached Brisbane City in 2016 and Country last year.

His appointments in these roles are a testament to his strengths as a coach, and are potentially a sign of what is to come.