Talent and experience mean Dale is a formidable foe
IT SEEMS as though every second school kid with talent is signed to an NRL club.
While some will make it, for many it is a false hope of a career in the NRL.
There is no such carrot dangling in front on Norths under-18 hooker Dale McDonald, which is strange.
Strange because he is arguably the best footballer in Ipswich for his age.
Perhaps it is because he is not a young giant. But what he lacks in size he makes up for in skill, pace and intelligence.
Brothers under-18 coach Tyron Day rates him highly, describing McDonald as the danger man in Sunday's under-18 grand final.
Much of the Brothers game plan in defence will revolve around controlling the Tigers dummy half.
"He's a good footballer," Day said. "If he doesn't fire they're in a bit of trouble."
Day has played in six IRL A grade grand finals and won five.
"Dealing with the occasion is the biggest thing to get across," he said.
McDonald has been there himself, steering his side to last year's title from halfback.
"Hopefully I can use that experience to help lead the others," McDonald said.
"The whole atmosphere of a grand final is usually different.
"It's a lot more intense.
"I'll just try to keep relaxed.
"Play my game, stick to the game plan and try not to get flustered."
McDonald has been with Norths for five years, despite living at Hatton Vale and attending Laidley State High School for most of that time.
He endured the travel time to and from training and games because of the group of friends at Norths.
A recent move to North Ipswich and Ipswich State High has made life a lot easier.
Next season McDonald plans to try his hand at the Ipswich Jets.
It is the last thing from his mind now however, with all attention focussed on a Brothers team that beat the minor premiers 48-34 in the first weekend of semi-finals.
"It was a wake-up call," McDonald said.
"To say they've beaten us and know they can beat us means we've just got to step up. If we can keep our line speed and put pressure on their ball players we should be able to shut them down."
Under 18 teams: Norths: 1 Ritchie Lowe, 2 Lyndon Reimers, 3 Steven Fili, 4 Cameron Woldt, 5 Benjamin Bell, 6 Spencer Fitzpatrick, 7 Mitchell Raine, 8 Max Lehmann, 9 Dale McDonald, 10 Lui Afele, 11 Stuart McCabe, 12 Haymish Wllis, 13 Jonathon Newton, 14 Dylan Gale, 15 Justin Boisen, 16 Schneider Auva'a, 17 Ethan Page.
Brothers: 1 Moa NauNau, 2 Kainano Leota, 3 Marion Seve, 4 Shaye Lund, 5 Blaine Hellmann, 6 Brock McNulty, 7 Jake Turpin, 8 Andrew Tully, 9 Michael van deer Meer, 10 Harley Fox, 11 Jake Redman, 12 Carl Downs, 13 Jacob Lindsey, 14 Connor Jolley, 15 Tom Belford, 16 Jesse Learmonth, 17 Callus Heck, 18 Regan Yates, 19 Zac Stanfield, 20 Lane Grayson, 21 Chris Bell.