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Roberts set to make it

Abby and Glenda Roberts with their rugby league playing kids (from left) Tate, 9, Blake, 12, and Ethan, 15.
Abby and Glenda Roberts with their rugby league playing kids (from left) Tate, 9, Blake, 12, and Ethan, 15. Adam Hourigan

THE best way to explain 15-year-old Ethan Roberts' footballing talent to those who haven't seen him play is to say that he already has his own manager.

The South Grafton High student is also in a feeder program to join the Brisbane Broncos NRL club as soon as he is old enough to sign a contract.

So it is no surprise to see that the South Grafton Rebels junior league player has earned a place in the Under-16 NSW Combined High School team.

What was a surprise, for his parents at least, was that he has been selected in the crucial position of five-eighth.

"Ethan was injured before the trials. He actually cracked a bone in his foot about 20 seconds into the match," Roberts' mother Glenda said.

"So he missed out on playing for the Northern Region at the CHS championships at Toronto.

"Fortunately, however, he was given a chance in the President's team, which is an invitational team made up of people in a similar boat to Ethan who may have missed out on their own regional trials through injury or whatever other reason.

"Ethan played great, but the President's team didn't win a match, and we didn't know how he would go in the CHS selectors' eyes."

Glenda and husband Abby, a former NRL player, needn't have worried.

Roberts will travel to Darwin at the end of the month to compete at the Australian School Boys competition and vie for his place in the Australian Merit team.

"He did really well to be selected in the New South Wales side. He is still only 15 and is playing under-16s," Glenda said. "Greg Inglis went down to the same carnival when he was 15 and didn't get noticed.

"We thought he might get picked as a reserve or get put in at lock because he is so versatile, but to get picked as the number six was a huge surprise for all of us."

In a scary sign for his rivals, Roberts was not at full fitness during the New South Wales championship, but was still named best player of the President's team.

"He hadn't played footy for four weeks leading up to the competition, nursing the bone chip in his foot rather than risk causing a more serious injury," Glenda said. "He was buggered after every match. He was down on his haunches trying to suck in the air.

``Ethan scored two brilliant individual tries, but it wasn't his usual brilliance. He was forced to play a different role to try to win the matches for his team.

"Sometimes against the bigger teams Ethan would be the only one able to make any metres, so they were playing him as a forward just to get up the paddock."

It was no surprise for South Grafton High football coach Matt McKee to see Ethan selected at five-eighth for the New South Wales CHS team.

McKee's students enjoyed great success in last year's Under-14 Buckley Shield knockout, making the final of the state-wide competition after beating selective Sports High School Chifley College in the semi-final.

Largely thanks to Roberts at five-eighth.

"He's definitely the best player to come out of the North Coast that I've seen," McKee said. "I've coached Titans player Kevin Gordon and had a bit to do with Jacob Miller (Tigers) and Shaun Fensom (Raiders), and my personal opinion is that Ethan is a better player than those three at the same age.

"He is a rare talent. I've never come across a kid so dominating. And not just against inferior opposition either - Ethan dominates good teams."

Topics:  brisbane broncos ethan roberts football rugby league



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