Band of Thunderbolts poised to lead the way
RUGBY LEAGUE: These are the young Storm troopers who are primed to lead Melbourne's under-20 side into the fray.
Dale Madden, Taumutu Afemui-Nohotima, Louis Geraghty, Harry Grant, Matthew Egan, Jacob Elmore, Cory Parker and Jesse Arthars have been included in the Sunshine Coast-based team's leadership group for its National Youth Championships campaign.
Maroochydore's Geraghty is relishing the prospect of having a senior role.
"It was a goal of mine to be part of that group. I'm keen to lead the boys and set an example,” he said.
And the bustling backrower expects his team to be a threat.
"There's a great vibe among the team...and I think there's some good combinations.
"We have lost a lot of strike (power) through the middle (from last year) but I think we make up for that with more (high) performance across the whole park.
"We have more depth and I think the outside backs will be good this year.”
The Maroochydore State High and Maroochydore Swans product played for the team last season when it missed the finals and he's eager to step things up a notch this time around.
"Playing every game for the Thunderbolts again is another personal goal and another goal this year is to hopefully play in the under-20 Origin team,” the 18-year-old said.
The under-20 competition will fold at the end of the year so Geraghty hopes a good season will provide him with further opportunities.
"I'm looking to play good footy this year and see where it gets me. Hopefully, I'll be down in Melbourne next year (with the Storm's NRL squad).”
The leadership group includes backrower Madden, a Nambour Crushers product, and Parker, who was with Bribie Island Warrigals.
Geraghty says the group will play an active role.
"We'll bring the boys in before training and talk about what we need to work on for the sessions and for the games,” he said.
"And we'll talk about penalties if boys are late (to training).”
The Thunderbolts will clash with a Bears outfit in a trial at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday (3.15pm) as a curtain-raiser to the state league trial involving the Sunshine Coast Falcons and the Bears.
The youngsters are coming off the back of a 30-26 trial loss to a Falcons 'B' team at Bokarina last weekend, when it let slip a lead in the heat.
"I think that's been the problem with us, even last year, closing out the games,” he said. "Playing to the 80th minute is something we have to work on.”
Geraghty's brother Tom, 24, plays for the Falcons. "I look up to him a fair bit,” he said.
The Bolts will meet the Bulldogs in round one of the NYC at Belmore on March 3.