Huge hope rises for Queensland
WHEN Tautau Moga runs onto ANZ Stadium to represent Queensland tomorrow, many from Riverview’s St Peter Claver College (SPCC) won’t be surprised.
The Bellbird Park product, who will turn out for the Queensland under-18s against NSW under-18 in a State of Origin curtain-raiser, spent last year showing he was made for higher honours.
As well as toying with opponents while playing for his school, Moga was part of the Sydney Roosters SG Ball (under-18) premiership winning team and gained selection in the end of season Australian Schoolboys tour of the UK.
Representing Queensland under-18 is just the next step in the continued upward progression of a young man with all the attributes to make it to the top.
“Zero surprise,” was the reaction of his schoolboys coach last year, SPCC rugby league co-ordinator Todd Riggs, when he heard Moga was in the Queensland team.
“He has been training full time with the Roosters’ NRL squad and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got a game.
“If not this year then next year or the year after.”
Moga has been playing in the Roosters National Youth Competition (under-20) team this season, despite being just 18.
“We knew he was going to make an immediate impact,” Riggs said of the first time he saw Moga on the paddock, after the Roosters brought him to SPCC from Marsden State High School.
“He looks like Israel Folau and plays like him.
Riggs is not exaggerating about the teenager who stands 189cm tall, weighs 105kg and can burn most opponents with his pace.
Riggs takes no credit for making Moga the player he has become, but believes the school provided an environment in which he could flourish and prove he had more than just the raw football ability it takes to succeed.
“Playing for us was probably at a level below his standard,” Riggs admitted.
“Certainly at times he carried the side a bit.
“He was always good for at least a couple of tries per match.
“He is a genuine athlete.”
Never was that more evident than at the Queensland confraternity carnival last year.
“He nearly single-handedly beat St Brendan’s College,” Riggs said.
“And they’re a very good football side.
“He carries three or four defenders with him every time.”
It is not just his playing ability that has convinced Riggs Moga will continue to succeed.
Never did he shirk training or show anything less than total commitment to his school team, despite operating on a higher level to those around him.
“He was always good to rely on,” Riggs said.
“He’d show others what was going on.
"He’s not the most vocal person but he’d just lead through his actions.
“He never brushed anything.”
Which is exactly what the Roosters were hoping.
“Scouts are after the whole package,” Riggs said.
“School performance, how they behave off the field, their family structure.
"In many respects that’s more important than what he does on the field.”
Moga ticked all the boxes and Riggs expects him to continue to do so.