Bundy's in touch
BUNDABERG made its presence felt again at the National Touch League in Perth, with 10 players matching it with the best in Central Queensland (CQ) teams and four coaches also involved.
The city provided six of the 13 CQ under-20 men's players in captain Tom Kronk, Tyran Stehbens, Zac Bainbridge, Dylan Bredhauer, Kyle Laybutt and Dane Cummins, who are all Year 12 students at Bundaberg State High School, while Kronk's mother, Terri Gilbert, was the coach.
They joined three players from Rockhampton, one from North Queensland and three from the First Contact Indigenous Group in Brisbane.
Gilbert, a Queensland State of Origin over-40 women's squad member, said the team won three of its four pool games, beating the ACT, Hunter Hornets and Sydney Mets but going down fighting to Sydney Scorpions, who went on to win the grand final.
The team then suffered a heavy 10-3 loss in the quarter-finals to Sydney Rebels but bounced back to claim a creditable fifth of the 10 teams from all states by accounting again for Hunter Hornets, 9-5 in the play-off for that position.
"All the boys did well. They were all vying for selection in the Australian under-18 side, which is going to New Zealand for the Tri-Series in January and which they will use to groom for the next World Cup in Australia in the Hunter region in 2015, when these players will be still in the under-20s," Gilbert said.
"Zac and Tom are already in those squads, with final teams to be announced later in the year after the National Youth Championships in October at Coffs Harbour in conjunction with the State of Origin. They will be groomed to be in open sides in the future.
"Kyle Laybutt also had a really good carnival, along with Tyran. All except Kyle had been to state before and it was the first time away for him but he has played in the Australian indigenous side for rugby union."
Another local, Mick Stehbens, was the CQ team assistant coach.
Gilbert also played in the CQ over-35 women's team, which won the title, defeating South-west Queensland 9-5 in the final after winning its four round-robin matches.
Bundaberg also had two players in the CQ open men's team, Dave Zanette and Jack Russo, and master coach Peter Robinson, who is also the state over-30 men's coach, while Kirsty Beer was a key member of the open women's team, which was coached by another local, Geoff Hooper.
The CQ open men lost just one pool match before being beaten 5-4 in the quarter-finals by Sydney Mets, who lost the final against Sydney Scorpions in a drop-off.
Zanette, 29, who has been part of the team for 12 years, said they had been relegated to third on for and against after finishing equal on top of the table with Gold Coast and Sydney Rebels.