QRL Media & Colleen Edwards  
*First Appeared on QRL.COM*

In what has been described as a ‘natural fit’; Marsden State High School and the Souths Logan Magpies have developed a partnership where the club will incorporate Marsden’s new $6million Centre of Excellence as a training base for their male squads.

This will include players from their Intrust Super Cup squad down through to the Under 18 Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup side – a move that will especially benefit players from the Logan area.

From a community perspective; players from the Logan region will have the opportunity to learn and develop locally with a foundation club who has a proud history dating back to 1908 and is affiliated with the Brisbane Broncos.

“The real beauty of this is that kids from this area don’t have to drive up the highway and back as often,” Souths Logan CEO Jim McClelland said at the official launch of the partnership at Marsden SHS’s Centre of Excellence earlier this week.

“We are in Logan, we have a base here now; we become a little bit more relevant hopefully to the community when the community realises exactly what we do for junior development and the kids that we are bringing through our programs.

“Long-term, we would like to have a playing base here as well so we can split our games; similar to St George Illawarra and Wests Tigers who have a spiritual home, but can split five or six games between their grounds.

“We have been trying for a lot of years to get down here; and this (training area) is a first step.”

Some of the players who would have benefited from such an arrangement this season include Souths Logan’s Mal Meninga Cup winning fullback and Australian Schoolboy representative Tesi Niu (who is currently on tour with the team in the United Kingdom) and his club and school team-mate Cruise Ten.

Ten was part of the premiership winning side this season; and next year is looking to follow a university pathway, where his first goal is to be accepted into an Engineering degree.

The Year 12 student made a special trip back to school last week to help launch the partnership and spoke about all he had experienced in football during season 2018.

“We had a couple of good players in our team like (David) Fifita in club this year (and); I enjoyed it; was good to play alongside them week-in, week-out,” the winner of the Souths Logan Bill Tyqin Mal Meninga Cup Most Valuable Player winner said.

“(It was also good to have) a few team-mates who played both at school and club including Tesi Niu; it helps to know each other’s style of play, it gets the bond a bit better and stronger too, so it helps on the field.

“I kind of miss (school footy) now that it’s all done.”

Students from Marsden’s Rugby League Excellence program like Ten and Niu will now be able to train at the school with additional structured support for their school work replacing the significant travel time associated with Brisbane-based venues.

Souths Logan Magpies and Marsden SHS player Tesi Niu was presented with his Australian Schoolboys jersey by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga. Photo: NRL Images
Souths Logan Magpies and Marsden SHS player Tesi Niu was presented with his Australian Schoolboys jersey by Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga. Photo: NRL Images

The facilities being provided to the Magpies (who will split their time between Marsden and their traditional home base) include a state-of-the-art gym, a recovery centre, four change rooms and an indoor training option; as well as an office in the centre to build upon the strong links with Logan clubs and the community.

Marsden State High School executive principal Andrew Peach said the new partnership was “a nice, natural fit” that made sense for both parties.

“Both the school and the club have a very positive relationship with the Brisbane Broncos and obviously with their affiliation and with players like Tesi (Niu) and Corey Allan (who has signed with Souths Sydney Rabbitohs next season) that have gone on to be part of the Broncos system; it’s been a nice fit for us to be able to bring all of that together.”