RUGBY LEAGUE: A big step up is what Calliope's Jessie Hammond is expecting as he chases a spot in the CQ Capras under-18s team.
The 17-year-old is part of the initial squad chosen after a selection trial at the weekend. It will be cut again on September 30.
"Hopefully I make the team, I made the (Capras) academy, so hopefully that's going to help me out a bit,” Jessie said.
Jessie has been playing rugby league most of his life, since he was about four.
And what he does he like about Queensland's favourite sport; "I just like being able to play footy with all of my mates”.
Unlike many players in his position he does not dream of playing in the National Rugby League, but admits it would be good.
The front rower played for the Calliope Roosters in the U18 and reserves local competition.
He had a seriously good season, being named the Gladstone Rugby League under-18 player of the year.
"It's been pretty good and it has been probably one of my better seasons,” Jessie said.
The Gladstone State High School Year 12 student said making the Capras squad would help his game a lot.
"It's a fair step ahead up at Rocky, so it would be really good to have that chance,” he said.
Jessie is not the only talent in the family.
His older brother Zane Wilson has been named in the U20s team.
Gladstone Rugby League operations manager Peter White said the Gladstone juniors were really strong and always had been.
"That's just flown on and it's great to see our boys given the opportunity,” he said.
"It's great for rugby league and great for the region.”
White said the selection of 10 current or former Gladstone players showed there was a clear pathway which was important.
Like CQ Capras coach Kim Williams, White said the new under-20s competition was a big deal.
"There's a real opportunity for the kids there now and it's having a really good flow-on effect already,” White said.
"The good thing about it is our young kids can stay in the region, sleep in their own beds and be surrounded by their own networks and families.”
Under 18s: Tremayne Hobson, Cameron Fitzsimmons, Jessie Hammond, Declan Malia and Jackson Mangion.
Under 20s: Ryan Flintham, Matt Wilson, Zaine Hammond, Alexander Smith and Zane Wilson