Last year Queensland Rugby League (QRL) launched its inaugural U20’s competition Hastings Deering Colts: a state-wide competition aligned with the Intrust Super Cup, forging a new era of pathway opportunities for rugby’s best young talent.
When the State’s largest mining support company teamed with QRL to create a competition to benefit players in regional towns – little did they realise they would be fielding five of their own employees as Cutters players.
This year three apprentices and two store persons are part of the Cutters line up including Paul Byrnes, 24, Cooper Bambling, 23, Will Lansbury, 20, Brendan White, 20 and Caleb Sinn, 19.
While Paul Byrnes and captain Cooper Bambling, who is currently benched because of a broken foot, are in the Intrust Cup league: Will Lansbury, Brendan White and Caleb Sinn have taken to the field in the Hastings Deering Colts competition.
Will Lansbury started his diesel fitting apprenticeship with Hastings Deering in 2017: now into his third year, the second-rower, who works in the component rebuild centre, has grown up in Mackay.
“I love my work and I love my football,” Lansbury said. “Often it is one or the other: I am really lucky I have this opportunity with Hastings Deering to think about my future whether that is one day working for field services at a mine or playing rugby league. Not a lot of people get this opportunity, so I guess I am one of the lucky ones.
“Last year I was playing senior footy for Brothers. Being selected for the Cutters is a great opportunity to take my rugby dreams further, but to be able to still train and live in my home city is pretty special.”
Hastings Deering Central Queensland Area Manager Daniel Viero said the company was committed to building capability through its apprenticeship program and that it was a bonus to employ Cutters players and also foster their sporting dreams.
“One of the real strengths of the Hastings Deering Colts is that many players will now be able to stay in their home regions and play in a high-standard state-wide competition,” Mr Viero said. “Under the previous National Youth Competition model, players were moving away from their family and friends at a young age.
“As one of the largest employers of apprentices in many regional towns, Hastings Deering Colts provides a great opportunity for Hastings Deering to support young people and young talent, in the workshop and on the playing field.”
“Sponsoring this competition is our way of showing the towns we work in that we are committed and care for their communities. It also proves to young people they do not have to leave their home town to achieve new goals.”
“Research clearly shows competitive sport positively engages small communities on a number of levels. Sport has a way of uniting communities as supporters rally behind their team, but there are also numerous health benefits that come with it including reducing depression in young men.”