Sam earns his stripes in Downs squad
AT JUST 21 years of age Sam Hogarth could be still feeling his way in the representative rugby world feeding off some of the team hard heads.
But Hogarth is not your everyday 21-year-old footballer.
This weekend he will be a leader among men in his role of vice-captain for Darling Downs when it looks to break its recent South Queensland Championships win drought.
Downs will host the Sunshine Coast tonight and Gold Coast on Sunday in this year's triangular series which act as selection trials for the Queensland Country Championships.
The coast teams have dominated recent championships, but Downs will tackle this year's tournament on a high, buoyed by a new-team culture and improving on-field performances.
Their rebirth as a representative force is the result of a three-year plan, now in its final year under head coach Rob Johnston and his coaching panel.
Hogarth has been at the centre of the Downs renaissance since pulling on his first Darling Downs senior jersey in 2013.
The team's turnaround and Hogarth's emergence as a 2014 Queensland Country Heeler representative have gone hand-in-hand and culminates tonight when he lines up as deputy to stand-in skipper Roger Geldard.
Geldard assumed the captaincy role this week when Tom Simpson was forced from the squad with a leg injury.
While Hogarth forms part of the Downs younger generation he credits the team's management and senior players with reviving the region's rep rugby spirit.
"I think the year before I started the team wasn't going the best," Hogarth said.
"But when Andrew Skipper and Rob Johnston came along things started to turn around.
"It's been good too that some of the older players like Sonny Power, Brendan Sexton and Roger Geldard have stuck around and helped a lot of the younger blokes.
"We've definitely have the potential to get the job done this weekend.
"We just have to make sure we turn up ready."
* ADMISSION to this weekend's championship matches if free.
TONIGHT'S DARLING DOWNS SOUTH QUEENSLAND CHAMPIONSHIPS SQUADS
SENIORS v SUNSHINE COAST at Gold Park starting 6.30pm
Forwards: Jack Cook, Baci Wilson, Jay Schultz, Matt Roberts, Sam Hogarth (vc), Lachlan Tullock, Sam Tweedy, Andrew Macpherson, Roger Geldard (c), Terry Harvey, Brendan Sexton, Andre Van Staden, Michael Gall, Sonny Power. Backs: Steve McVeigh, Dane Hurrell, Angus Ramsey, Troy Hobbs, Matt Lyons, Chris Shaw, Zac Boland, Chase Berg, Grant Angel, Paul Maguire.
UNDER 19 v SUNSHINE COAST at Gold Park starting 4.30pm
1 Tui Tea 2 Robert Patterson 3 Callum Gibson 4 Ben Kennedy 5 Harry Fulwood 6 Charlie Southern 7 John Moloney 8 Matt Burke 9 Ben Littleton 10 Will Gilbert 11 Henry Finlay 12 Cam Griffin 13 Lachlan Bell 14 Damien Leggett 15 Jacob Little 16 Lawson Dingle 17 Jardy Dillon 18 Hugh Fordyce 19 Ben Whip 20 Tim Ostwald 21 Sam Jobling 22 Nick Van Bakel 23 Sam Dean.