Bernstrom unfazed by big guns

HE will be the youngest man to walk out onto Browne Park in Rockhampton tonight, but it does not seem to worry Sam Bernstrom.

In fact, not much does.

The laid-back 17-year-old will sit on the wing for the Central Queensland Chairman’s XIII side against Queensland Cup team CQ Comets.

Having graduated last season, the lanky speedster made the decision to move to the Sunshine Coast this year and chase a career in league.

It meant he had to leave former club Wests, but the new Sunshine Coast Sea Eagle is already confident he made the right decision.

“It’s great there, very professional and I’m around some good people,” he said.

The Sea Eagles won the Queensland Cup at their first attempt last year.

“We’ve been training with the top squad lately. It’s a great environment to be in and I think it can only help my career,” Bernstrom said.

Standing at 196cm tall, he still possesses a fearsome sidestep, a skill he prides himself on.

The versatile back is also a handy goal kicker.

“I think my footwork is pretty good for a tall guy,” he said.

“I’m not sure whether I’ll get any taller, but I know I’m getting bigger and, with more gym work, I should get a lot stronger this season.”

Easts’ Matt Tanner, Hervey Bay’s Tyrone Hopgood and Brothers’ Brent Kuskey have also been selected in the team, which includes players from as far as Stanthorpe and Winton.

Tanner is slated to play five-eighth for the new team, with Hopgood in the back row and Kuskey a utility.

“It’s going to be a good test, up against Q Cup players in my first game of the season,” Bernstrom said.

The “bush battlers”, as they have been dubbed, will be coached by Australian player and State of Origin legend Jason Hetherington.

Hetherington said he knew little of the boys but would be encouraging them to roll up their sleeves and have a real “dig” against their more fancied rivals.

Kick-off is 5pm tonight in Rockhampton.

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