NT Rugby is known for punching well above its weight and in 2023 a number of future stars have been identified for playing scholarships and higher honours.
As anticipation across the country builds for a golden decade for Australian rugby including two World Cups and a Lions tour, we look at eight of the Territory’s hottest talents.
NT Pathways Manager Paul Healy commended not only the junior players, but the massive support crews that had helped them get so far.
“There’s so many people who work behind the scenes – parents, coaches, volunteers and club staff – and these opportunities wouldn’t be possible without them,” Healy said.
“These kids have worked hard and obviously have talent to have been identified by other independent parties, but to go away and be involved within a high-performance environment and continue to receive a good education along the way is a real accomplishment.
“It’s a testament to both our incredible community of families and supporters and our pathways, as well as the hard work of the players that these opportunities have arisen.”
Paige McCourt - Outside Back
Paige McCourt is a rising multi-sport star who was identified by the National Indigenous under-17s 7s side in 2022.
She is set to don their colours in New South Wales after earning final squad selection following an intense November training camp and trial game block in Sydney.
It was there McCourt was selected to play in a possibles vs probables match and after another strong performance was selected in the final squad of 12.
McCourt captained the Mackillop Saints girls 7s, co-captained the NT under-16s representative side, and has earned representative honours for rugby league and touch football.
Lance Po Ching - Backrow / Hooker
Casuarina junior Lance Po Ching is one of three Territory prospects headed to Queensland GPS powerhouse Ipswich Grammar in 2023.
This comes following another standout year for the NT Mozzies under-14s and under-16s sides.
The Darwin Middle student took up the sport as a 12-year-old and took to the sport like a duck to water dominating in his position at age group level.
Jerome Garling - Outside Back
Cross-code talent Jerome Garling is also headed to Ipswich Grammar in 2023 to further his rugby playing career.
Despite only being in his third year of the sport Garling has very quickly caught the eye, and after an impressive display in Canberra in 2022 was offered his scholarship.
He previously represented the NT Warriors in league at the 2021 Murri Carnival, and began his union career the same year with Darwin Dragons before earning Mozzies selection in 2022.
Bodhi Boheme - Outside Back
Bodhi Boheme is another Territory youngster headed to Brisbane’s GPS competition after accepting a bursary to Toowoomba Grammar.
In 2022, he took his game to the next level representing the NT Country under-14’s team.
He was then selected as vice-captain in the NT rep side which toured ACT competing in the Southern States Tournament.
In Darwin, Boheme has played for Swampdogs, Darwin Dragons and featured in the 2022 Hottest 7’s competition, leading to his opportunity in Toowoomba.
Oliver Ledek - Backrow
Oliver Ledek began playing rugby for South Darwin Rabbitohs at under-eights level in 2017 and stayed at the club until 2021, when he co-captained the under-12 side to a premiership.
He then made the move to Darwin Dragons in 2022 where he continued to impress and show his talent as a versatile backrow option.
Oliver’s broad skillset earned him a call up to the under-14s NT Mozzies side in 2021.
In 2022, he applied to enrol at St Joseph Nudgee College in Brisbane as a boarder, and was promptly accepted to Australia’s leading school rugby nursery.
Sonny Yates - Inside Back
Another New Zealand-born talent, Sonny Yates has lived in Darwin for the past nine years and will take to the field against his fellow Territorians after securing a scholarship to Downloads College in 2023.
A junior grade-captain and grand finalist at Dragons, Yates is a talented representative player and gifted goalkicker.
But underpinning his success has been hard work and commitment.
Yates set a goal of earning his scholarship to Downlands College more than two years ago and he’s made that dream a reality off his own back.
Fraser Brown - Front Row
Born in Auckland to Samoan/Fijian parents, Fraser Brown moved to the Northern Territory when he was just a year old and has developed into a fine young player.
A front-rower with strong handling and footwork, Fraser will join Bodhi at Toowoomba Grammar on a scholarship following his impressive Southern States campaign leading the U14 NT Mozzies.
The Mackillop College product is very keen to succeed in Toowoomba and will be one to watch through the grades in GPS rugby.
Jias Mick - Outside Back
The Darwin born and bred Jias Mick is the third Territory talent who has earned his chance to study at Ipswich Grammar in 2023.
The Casuarina Cougar talent started his rugby journey in 2021 where he very quickly impressed.
He then picked up his chance to play representative rugby, both for City in the City vs Country meet and for the NT Mozzies.