Gin Gin 17-year-old Sam Bernstrom held his own against the Central Queensland Comets on Saturday.
Gin Gin 17-year-old Sam Bernstrom held his own against the Central Queensland Comets on Saturday. DARRYN SMITH

Bernstrom's boys bust

TEENAGE winger Sam Bernstrom overcame a nervous start to play strongly in his side’s big loss to the Central Queensland Comets in Rockhampton on Saturday.

It was tough work for the Central Queensland Chairman’s XIII early, going down 24-0 after the first quarter.

They needed the quarter time break too; Bernstrom was impressed with just how fast and physical the pre-season trial was.

“It was played at a pretty quick pace,” he said.

“I’ve played at that sort of level with the under-19 Maroons last year, but doing it with the men is different again.”

The Chairman’s side went on to outscore the Comets 12-10 in the final three quarters, but they were never going to claw their way back completely.

Hervey Bay’s Tyrone Hopgood impressed for the Chairman’s XIII, crossing for a try and hitting two from two conversions.

The 17-year-old coughed up possession early in the game when hit by a crunching tackle in the wet and greasy conditions.

“The first set of six was pretty brutal and it got my attention, but it died down a bit after that.”

But the former Wests player rebounded well to play all but 10 minutes of the game under the watchful eye of coach and former Maroons prop Jason Hetherington.

He did not cross the line himself, but made good metres out wide and stayed solid in defence despite being the youngest on the paddock.

“We gave it a fair crack and came back fairly well,” Bernstrom said.

“It was the perfect preparation for the season, playing such good hard footy so early.”

Bernstrom will head back the Sunshine Coast today and resume training with the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles.

The season starts in just over two weeks and the TAFE student has already set his goals.

“I want to definitely be in the starting side for colts and then within the next two years I want to be playing Queensland Cup or NRL under-20s,” he said.

“I know I need to put some bulk on, so it’s up to me to do more gym work and get bigger.”

While Bernstrom was slugging it out in Rockhampton, former Bundaberg Brothers forward Antonio Kaufusi was pressing his claims in a North Queensland Cowboys trial match.

The former Melbourne Storm prop failed to make an impact, and neither did new recruit Willie Mason, in their 28-6 loss to the New Zealand Warriors in Cairns.

In wet conditions the Cowboys never really got going, probably due to the absence of injured playmaker Johnathan Thurston.



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