State trials berth stuns teen
Jackson heads to Townsville
MUNDUBBERA teenager Darien Jackson was stunned when he was named in the Darling Downs Rugby Union under-18 representative squad.
The 16-year-old was included in the team after impressing at the recent selection trials.
Jackson and his teammates flew to Townsville yesterday where they will represent the Darling Downs at the State Rugby Trials this week.
“I never thought for one minute that I would be playing representative rugby union,” Jackson said.
“I was so surprised when they called out my name at the end of the trials.”
Jackson started his sporting career in soccer before switching to rugby league with the Central Burnett Brumbies in the under 10s.
He now plays fullback with Toowoomba Brothers in the under-18 Toowoomba rugby league competition but had been keen to try his hand at the 15-man game.
Darien Jackson I was so surprised when they called out my name at the end of the trials.
“I have always wanted to play professional football but I thought it would be in rugby league but if I do well in union, I will take that,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s mother, Tina Hartwig, said she was almost physically sick while watching her son play against his older rivals in the under-18 competition.
“These guys are fully grown men in this grade and they are giants compared to Darien,” she said.
“He has always been the smallest in the team but now he is playing against boys who are not only big, they have matured.”
Jackson’s sporting prowess is not limited to the football field with the young flyer recently claiming the Darling Downs cross country championship, rocketing home almost one minute ahead of his nearest rival.
Mrs Hartwig said her son was determined to do his best no matter what the challenge.
“Darien said he ran as fast as he could without vomiting,” she said.
“He said training for football was why he was so fit and I know he would be putting in 100% effort because that is the only way he knows.”
Jackson will be joined at the trials this week by former Brumbies teammate Metali Junior Koula Havili.
Havili has been named in the Wide Bay squad to compete at the trials.
“I am so looking forward to playing with MJ again and I hope we both get picked for the Queensland team,” Jackson said.
“I would rather play on the same team as MJ rather than having to tackle him.”
ON TRIAL: Mundubbera teenager Darien Jackson has been named in the Darling Downs U18 side that will compete at the State Rugby Trials in Townsville this week.