Jess Wilkinson hugs her supportive Wests' coach Brent Nicholls.
Jess Wilkinson hugs her supportive Wests' coach Brent Nicholls. Rob Williams

Qld rep inspired in 'special group'

PLAYER of the final Jess Wilkinson had plenty on her mind preparing to represent the Queensland Schoolgirls side in New Zealand later this month.

However, the rising Wests' talent focused on the first job at hand, helping her quality-rich side beat Hancocks 8-1 in the A Grade hockey grand final.

"This is the best group of girls I could have been with and they've taught me a lot,'' she said.

Wilkinson, 17, was delighted to be part of a Wests' side with so much skill and ability.

"It's amazing for us to win and something so many people were looking forward to,'' she said. "And it means a lot to the club.''

Wests also won the earlier Reserve Grade men's grand final after a cliffhanger finish.

Bremer State High year 12 student Wilkinson is joining the Queensland Schoolgirls under 19 side heading to New Zealand on September 26.

She said having a former Australian player in the Wests' side was a massive inspiration.

"Amy Kickbusch (nee Korner) has been an idol since I was little so it was a big step for me, a big challenge to come in and play for the team,'' she said.

Guidance from senior players like Kickbusch and team co-captain Amy Nicholls made Wilkinson welcome.

"They are all the mums of the team and they really take care of everyone,'' she said.

The exciting young player also praised team coach Brent Nicholls for his invaluable role in Wests' back-to-back premiership successes.

"He makes sure everyone is okay and he's just an amazing coach,'' she said.

Nicholls was immensely proud to be working with loyal senior Wests' players like his wife Amy and her good friend Kickbusch and "a special group of young kids that are all capable''.

He tipped a fine era for the club after watching one of the best locally-produced teams complete its remarkable season.



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