The Queensland and New South Wales under-18 sides will meet for the 12th time on Wednesday night, as the curtain raiser to State of Origin Game 1 .
New South Wales, who are on a three-year winning streak, have dominated the fixture, winning nine of the 11 encounters.
In our player guide, we’ll give you a rundown of all the players selected and how they’ve been performing for their clubs in 2019.
1 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow (Townsville Blackhawks/North Qld Cowboys)
Tabuai-Fidow was the Mal Meninga Cup’s top try scorer in 2019, scoring 13 tries in just six games. He averaged a whopping 240 metres a game in the competition. He then moved up to Townsville’s under-20 side, scoring five tries in three games so far. He recently re-signed with the Cowboys until the end of 2022.
2 Alofiana Khan-Pereira (Burleigh Bears/Gold Coast Titans)
A Queensland under-16 representative in 2017, Khan-Pereira played just four Mal Meninga Cup games for Burleigh earlier in the season. He recently made his debut for the Bears’ Colts side, scoring a try in his first game.
3 Reece Hoffman (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)
One of two uncontracted players in the Queensland side, Hoffman earned his jersey on the back of a great Mal Meninga Cup campaign for Wynnum. He scored seven tries and kicked 38 goals in the Seagulls run to the Grand Final.
4 Fanitesi Niu (Souths Logan Magpies/Brisbane Broncos)
One of three players in the side with Intrust Super Cup experience, the 17-year old Niu has played seven games for Souths Logan in the competition, scoring two tries. An Australian Schoolboy representative, Niu was still 16 when he played for Queensland under-18 last season.
5 Xavier Coates (Tweed Heads Seagulls/Brisbane Broncos)
A two-try hero in Tweed’s national championship win over Illawarra, Coates has since moved up to the Intrust Super Cup after scoring seven tries in six games in the under-18s. A Queensland under-18 rep last season, he scored two tries in his Cup debut in Round 11.
6 Josh James (Norths Devils/Brisbane Broncos)
A Wests Michelton junior, James played for four games for Norths under-18 before moving up to the Colts in Round 8. A solid defender with a smart kicking game, James represented Queensland under-16 in 2017 and is contracted to the Broncos.
7 Sam Walker (Ipswich Jets/Brisbane Broncos)
Son of former Bronco, Sea Eagle and Rabbitoh Ben Walker, Sam has been the talk of junior rugby league in recent weeks, with a reported 12 clubs after his signature. The instinctive halfback had an outstanding Mal Meninga Cup campaign for the Jets, scoring nine tries in six games.
8 Jack Martin (Ipswich Jets/Brisbane Broncos)
After six games for Ipswich’s Mal Meninga Cup side to start the year, Martin progressed straight into the Jets’ Intrust Super Cup side, playing two games so far. Martin actually made his Colts debut last season, and has played two more games at that level in 2019.
9 Jake Simpkin (Wynnum Manly Seagulls/Brisbane Broncos)
Electric from dummy half in Wynnum Manly’s run to the Grand Final, Simpkin scored 11 tries in eight Mal Meninga Cup games. Since moving up to the Colts, he’s scored a try in two games. He was 18th man for the Queensland under-18 side in last year.
10 Tristan Powell (Burleigh Bears/Gold Coast Titans)
A Queensland under-16 rep in 2017, Powell quickly moved up to Burleigh’s under-20 side after playing five games in the Mal Meninga Cup. A Goondiwindi junior, Powell has become a regular in a Bears forward pack that currently leads the Colts competition.
11 Brendan Piakura (Tweed Heads Seagulls/Brisbane Broncos)
A Helensvale junior, Piakura was damaging on the edges for Tweed as they took out the national title. A try scorer in the national final, he scored five tries total in nine games. Still just 17, he represented Queensland under-16 last season.
12 Trent Loiero (Sunshine Coast Falcons/Melbourne Storm)
After making his Colts debut last season for the Falcons, Loiero returned to the Mal Meninga Cup to start 2019, playing seven games. He has now moved back up to their under-20 side, playing two games. A Kawana junior, he spent time with Melbourne’s first grade squad during the pre-season.
13 Juwan Compain (Tweed Heads Seagulls/Gold Coast Titans)
An Australian Schoolboy and ARL Schoolboy Cup winner with Palm Beach Currumbin in 2018, Compain has backed up that stellar season with Queensland under-18 selection. A member of Tweed’s national title side, he scored four tries in nine games and has since debuted for their Colts’ team.
14 Reece Walsh (Tweed Heads Seagulls/Brisbane Broncos)
Another of Tweed’s national title squad, Walsh scored eight tries in eight games during the competition, including a double in the national final. A fullback who attends Keebra Park State High, Walsh represented Queensland under-16 last season and was recently selected for the Queensland Schoolboys side.
15 Jack Howarth (Easts Tigers/Melbourne Storm)
A rangy back rower, Howarth played seven games for Easts’ Mal Meninga Cup side this year, scoring seven tries. Contracted to Melbourne, he attends Brisbane Boys’ College, where he plays centre for their union team.
16 Carsil Vakai (Tweed Heads Seagulls/Gold Coast Titans)
Captain of Tweed’s all conquering under-18 side, Vakai earned his first Queensland jersey after his efforts in the Mal Meninga Cup. He has since moved up to their under-20 side, playing just the one game so far.
17 Harrison Graham (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)
Another uncontracted player, Graham earned a Queensland call-up after helping Wynnum Manly to the Mal Meninga Cup Grand Final. A local Wynnum junior, Graham played seven games for the Seagulls, scoring three tries.
18 Toby Sexton (Tweed Heads Seagulls/Canterbury Bulldogs)
Sexton was named man of the match in the Tweed’s national championship win over Illawarra. He scored 84 points over nine games for the Seagulls. Contracted to the Bulldogs, Sexton played five-eighth in Palm Beach Currumbin’s Schoolboy Cup win last year.
1 Bradman Best (Newcastle Knights)
One of the game’s highest rated juniors, Best bypassed the SG Ball in 2019, moving straight into Newcastle’s Jersey Flegg side. In their Round 5 dismantling of Manly, Best scored four tries. A Central Coast junior, he has since moved up to the Knights’ Canterbury Cup side.
2 Mathew Feagai (Illawarra Steelers)
Alongside his twin brother Max, Mathew Feagai starred for the Steelers in their successful SG Ball run in 2019. Playing outside his brother, he scored 11 tries in 11 games and earned his first New South Wales jersey.
3 Max Feagai (Illawarra Steelers)
A try scorer in Illawarra’s loss to Tweed in the under-18 national final, Feagai was tough to contain in the SG Ball, crossing for 9 tries in 9 games. A Leeton junior, he represented New South Wales under-16 in 2017.
4 Viliami Penisini (Parramatta Eels)
A try scorer in New South Wales under-16’s win over Queensland last year, Penisini played 11 games for Parramatta’s SG Ball side in 2019, scoring six tries. A Hills Distrist junior, Penisini attends The King’s School in North Parramatta and plays for their union team.
5 Tyrell Sloan (Illawarra Steelers)
A Dapto junior, Sloan scored two tries in Illawarra’s loss to Tweed in the national final. He had a great year in the SG Ball, scoring 11 tries in 12 games.
6 Jayden Sullivan (Illawarra Steelers)
A local Illawarra junior, Sullivan was the star of the Steeler’s SG Ball Grand Final win over Manly. Captaining the side at halfback, he scored two tries and kicked five goals in the victory. He finished his SG Ball campaign with 10 tries and 37 goals in 12 appearances.
7 Noah Griffiths (Bathurst Panthers/Melbourne Storm)
A Bathurst Panthers junior contracted to the Storm, Griffiths led the Western Rams to the inaugural under-16 Andrews Johns Cup title last year. He earned a New South Wales under-16 jersey for his efforts and has spent 2019 playing for Bathurst’s under-18 and reserve grade sides.
8 David Hollis (Parramatta Eels)
Originally from Wauchope on the mid north coast, Hollis represented New South Wales under-16 in 2017 after moving to Sydney to join the Eels. He played 12 SG Ball games in 2019, scoring three tries, before moving up to Parramatta’s Jersey Flegg side in Round 8.
9 Mitchell Black (Newcastle Knights)
A crafty dummy half from Taree, Black played just five games for Newcastle’s SG Ball side in 2019, scoring four tries, to earn his first junior Origin jersey. He represented the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges at 2018’s Australian Schoolboys trials.
10 Sione Fainu (Manly Sea Eagles)
The younger brother of Manly hooker Manase Fainu, Sione is one of six Sea Eagles to be selected in the side. A damaging ball runner, he played eight games in Manly’s run to the SG Ball Grand Final, in which he scored a try.
11 Jackson Topine (Canterbury Bulldogs)
A Western Australia junior, Topine was the star of the Bulldogs SG Ball campaign in 2019, scoring eight tries in 11 games. A member of the club’s 2018 SG Ball Grand Final side, he made his Jersey Flegg debut in Round 7.
12 Josh Schuster (Manly Sea Eagles)
A New South Wales under-16 representative in 2017, Schuster had another dominant year for Manly in the SG Ball in 2019, scoring 12 tries in 12 games. Playing five-eighth for the Sea Eagles, he moves back into the second row for the under-18 side, where he’ll look to cause havoc against Queensland.
13 Siua Fotu (Manly Sea Eagles)
Another of Manly’s dominant SG Ball forward pack, Fotu played 11 games for the Sea Eagles, scoring seven tries.
14 Kaeo Weekes (Manly Sea Eagles)
An Asquith junior, Weekes is one of only two players, the other being Brisbane’s Jack Bird, to represent New South Wales under-16 twice. Adept at fullback or in the halves, Weekes scored nine tries in 11 games, including a double in Manly’s Grand Final loss to Illawarra.
15 Ben Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles)
The third Trbojevic brother to be selected for the New South Wales under-18 side, Ben has begun to carve out a bright career for himself in Manly’s SG Ball side. A back rower or centre, he scored seven tries in 10 games this year. He represented the NSW under-16 side in 2017.
16 Alec Tuitavake (Manly Sea Eagles)
An imposing front rower from the Beacon Hill Bears, Tuitavake was another key factor in Manly’s SG Ball forward pack. He played 11 games in their run to the Grand Final.
17 Trey Mooney (Parramatta Eels)
A Cabramatta junior, Mooney was selected for the New South Wales under-16 side last season and was then named U16 Player of the Year at the Brad Fittler Medal awards. The second rower played 11 games for the Eels’ SG Ball side this season, scoring twice.
18 Sam Hughes (Parramatta Eels)
A New South Wales under-16 representative in 2017, Hughes made his Jersey Flegg debut for the Eels last season, playing one game. In 2019, he started the season in their SG Ball side, playing seven games and scoring a try.
19 Oliver Clements (Central Coast Roosters)
The sole player selected from a Central Coast side that finished third, Clements was an important member of their forward pack as they made it all the way to the preliminary finals. He played 12 games, scoring one try.
20 Junior Tupou (Canberra Raiders)
A New South Wales under-16 representative just last season, Tupou played six games for the Raiders’ SG Ball side in 2019, scoring five tries.