National U18s berth a step towards top side
JUSTIN Cridland's goal for years has been to make an Australian touch football team and the dream has finally arrived.
The Gladstone junior has made the under-18 team to play against New Zealand in January.
After winning the national championships as captain of Queensland, selectors were left with little choice but to include the 17-year-old who is Gladstone's only player to be selected for Australia.
"We beat New South Wales in the final ... I was captain of the Queensland schoolboys side," Cridland said.
"I was quietly confident and thought I had done enough."
It caps off a big year for Cridland who is in the middle of finishing off his schooling.
Juggling Year 12 and touch football duties, the constant trips south and interstate while needing to be organised with his life make getting the Australian jersey even sweeter.
"I am happy to accomplish the honour but it has not all soaked in yet," Cridland said.
"I reckon grade 11 helped me get prepared for this a lot because it had a similar workload."
The Trans-Tasman Challenge with New Zealand is going to be a good reward for finishing school for Cridland, who is readying himself for the January clash.
With three matches across three consecutive days of action on January 16-18, the team has already hatched a plan to account for their bitter rivals.
"We had training on the weekend in Sydney ... it was good to meet all the boys," Cridland said.
"Half of the team is from Queensland and I have played with them before so I am comfortable."
It is his first trip for the national side after five gigs with Queensland, three in schoolboys and two in club representative sides.
Feeling like he has a good grounding to launch on to the international stage, one day Cridland would like to play for the open men's side.
He plans to use this experience to lay a foundation.
"This youth stuff is a pathway to the opens," he said. "That is what I want to do one day."
The chance is there for Cridland who was named player-of-the-final when representing Queensland Secondary Schools at the National Youth Championships.
Cridland's National Touch results
Queensland Secondary Schools went undefeated through 11 games of competition:
- Match 1 - Defeated Australian Capital Territory Pirates 15-0
- Match 2 - Defeated Touch New Zealand 15s 13-1
- Match 3 - Defeated Western Tigers 14-1
- Match 4 - Defeated BMTA Mustangs 10-3
- Match 5 - Defeated New South Wales Combined Catholic Colleges 10-1
- Match 6 - Defeated Tasmania 20-2
- Match 7 - Defeated Victoria 15-0
- Match 8 - Defeated New South Wales Combined Independent Schools 17-4
- Quarter-final- Defeated Brisbane City Cobras 11-3
- Semi-final - Defeated Central Queensland Bulls 11-2
- Grand final - Defeated New South Wales Combined High Schools 8-5