Gladstone’s Sam Smith has been a big improver in 2012.
Gladstone’s Sam Smith has been a big improver in 2012. Allan Reinikka

Bambling set to lead

COOPER Bambling is prepared to harness the nervous energy inside and follow in Darren Lockyer's footsteps as he prepares to lead Queensland into battle against New South Wales later this month.

The St Brendans College student will line-up for Queensland in their under-16 interstate match against New South Wales as the lead-up match to Game One of the 2012 State of Origin series.

Bambling and his Central Queensland Capras under-16 teammates Sheldon Bobbert, Sam Smith and Kieran Duffin were selected in the Queensland representative side on Tuesday afternoon.

CQ Capras coach Steve Parle said Bambling's nerves of steel are what guided the CQ Capras to a Cyril Connell Cup semi-final berth.

"Cooper was the one player who I thought would be selected, his performance all season was to perfection," he said.

"This will be both he and Sheldon's fifth time making a Queensland side, having played representative football since under-12s."

Parle is confident Bambling will fulfil his leading role on the field with the Queensland halfback sure to focus his energy on organising and directing his side around the park.

"He has been very consistent all season, scoring the majority of the team's tries throughout the Cyril Connell Cup," he said.

Yeppoon Seagulls' Bobbert will join his Queensland teammates at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium, lining up in the No.2 jersey.

"I was a bit surprised to see Sheldon on the wing, he hasn't really played too much in that position," Parle said.

"It is a tough position to play but I am sure he will still be able to shine through."

Norths Chargers player Duffin is another dominant Central Queensland figure who will add strength to the Maroons pack in the coming weeks.

"He had previously made the under-12 Queensland representative side but due to a couple of horrific injuries, has been unable to trial for selection in recent years," Parle said.

"He was always going to be one of those kids who makes rep sides."

Making his debut in the centres for Queensland this year is Gladstone's Smith, a Capras player in which Parle was quick to praise at the end of the Cyril Connell season. "Each team always has a big improver each season and for us Sam was it," he said.

"I was amazed with how much he has developed as a rugby league player."

The CQ Capras junior team presented itself as an incredibly talented side.

As in previous years, a host of impressive CQ youngsters seem certain to gain the attention of NRL scouts.

"We were a very consistent team all season," Parle said.

"We have a great nursery for players, it's just a shame our region doesn't have an NRL team for them to stay here and pursue their professional careers."

The under-16 Queensland side will tackle NSW in a curtain-raiser to the State of Origin series opener at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium on May 23.



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