Rugby Union

Brumbies Colts coach backs Super under-20s to develop future Wallabies

ACT Brumbies Colts coach Russell Ingram is adamant the inaugural Super under-20s competition will unearth future stars and give juniors a stepping stone to a professional contract.

The Brumbies Colts will play their first game of the new national championship, which doubles as an Australian under-20s trial and is designed to fast-track junior development.

Jordan Jackson-Hope will captain the Brumbies Colts after signing a development contract.
Jordan Jackson-Hope will captain the Brumbies Colts after signing a development contract. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The NRL has decided to cut back on its under-20s program to focus on a different development structure.

But rugby has invested in the junior ranks for the first time to replace the previous state-based tournament.

Teams are aligned to the five Super Rugby championships, and Canberra's best juniors will get a taste of what it's like to play in front of a big crowd when they play the curtain-raiser to the Brumbies-Waratahs match on Friday night.

"Some of these guys are in the sights of the Australian selectors ... guys like Nick Jooste and Jordan Jackson-Hope could be the next Christian Lealiifano-Matt Toomua combination," Ingram said.

"There's a massive gap between schoolboy rugby, club footy and Super Rugby. But now you've got the under-20s, the [National Rugby Championship] and there's a real chance for guys to progress.

"We've been training four days a week since October, that's exciting to see how these guys cope with the intensity of this level of footy."

Teenage playmaker Jooste moved to Canberra at the end of last year and is living with Ingram after signing a full-time contract with the Brumbies.

"I'm sure there are some future Brumbies in this group we've got, there are a number of boys that will also put their hands up for Aussie under-20s," Ingram said.

"That's a great adventure for boys who can get that opportunity ... there are some really quality footballers throughout."

Jackson-Hope was training with the Brumbies in the off-season and juggling bar work to earn money.

But Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham offered him a development contract and he's been given the Super under-20s captaincy duties.

"We've always felt a rivalry with NSW in the juniors, they've been the favourites and we've been the underdogs so we've always got something to prove," Jackson-Hope said.

"The rivalry is massive in Super Rugby and that transfers down to the junior grades."

SUPER UNDER-20s ROUND ONE

Friday: Brumbies Colts v Next Gen Blues at Canberra Stadium, 5.10pm.

Brumbies Colts: 15. Harry Tyson, 14. Cole Davis, 13. Iziah Tittor, 12. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 11. Thomas Hall, 10. Nick Jooste, 9. Mitchell Douch, 8. Brodie Leber, 7. Dean Paragali, 6. Zach Shepherd, 5. Cameron Holt, 4. Darcy Swain, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 2. Siuta Tai, 1. Faalelei Sione. Reserves: 16. Samuel Samuelu, 17. Marcus Cutler, 18. Thomas Ross, 19. Levi Goodwin, 20. Angus Allen, 21. Ryan Lonergan, 22. Samuel Ross, 23. Geoff Robertson.

Junior Gold Cup

Saturday: ACT under-15s v Hunter at 11am; ACT under-17 v East Province at 12.30pm. Both games at Gungahlin Enclosed Oval.

Sunday: ACT under-15s v Sydney North Harbour at 2pm; ACT v Met East at 3.15pm. Both games at Gungahlin Enclosed Oval.