Neil Cadigan

The great success of the Seagulls’ Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup team this year has continued past their grand final victory over Wynnum Manly and National Junior National State Championship win against Illawarra.

For coach Tim Maccan, part of the club’s greatest Queensland Cup era as a player, developing the players’ characters and setting them on a possible pathway towards whatever NRL ambitions they have, is just as important as on-field success.

The selection of six Seagulls players in Queensland’s under-18s Origin side (and several should have been spotted by the NSW selectors!) was an outstanding feat. For Xavier Coates to be awarded man of the match too this a step further.

Coates scored two tries on debut for the Seagulls in the Intrust Super Cup just 10 days before his Origin appearance while Juwain Compain will debut this Sunday against PNG Hunters in Port Moresby.

For a Tweed squad that is made up almost entirely of locals from Northern Rivers, Tweed district and the Gold Coast it is a remarkable story. And its impact may be seen for many years to come with most of the Seagulls squad aligned with NRL clubs.

The Titans currently have Compain, Carsil Vaikai, Caleb Hodges, Solomon Torrens, Ediq Ambrosyev, Ben Liyou, Noah Gafa, Jake Martin, Jaiden West and Jed Edwards, who has missed much of this season with a broken arm, as part of their high-performance squads.

Coates and his fellow Queensland under-18s reps Reece Walsh and Brendan Piakura are on contract to the Broncos.

Kade Hill and Toby Sexton (who was the Maroons’ 18th man) are on the Canterbury Bulldogs’ books while Josh Bevan and Izzy Higgins have deals with Sydney Roosters.

That’s 17 players who have been noticed by NRL clubs.

“It’s so good that our players can now really see a natural pathway from under-18s to the under-20s Hastings Deering Colts (several have already progressed to this level) and the Queensland Cup or the NRL,” Maccan said.

“That’s what we try to impress on them. Now that the NRL under-20s competition has gone, there are still natural steps to follow where they get a good grounding and gradually progress.

“It might be to Intrust Super Cup through the Seagulls or it may be through an NRL development deal. Players can have a good experience if they do go to play elsewhere and hopefully come back and play Intrust Super Cup as better players if they don’t make it to the NRL and they can impart their experience with other young players coming through our ranks.

“It has been such a pleasure being involved with this group; they are very close and worked hard together and they have been rewarded.”

Click below to watch some of the 2019 season highlights of a team the Tweed Heads Seagulls are very, very proud of.