STRONG BASE: A Karalee junior absorbs some determined defence. In its 25th season, the Karalee club has two great hopes contesting the Junior Development finals.
STRONG BASE: A Karalee junior absorbs some determined defence. In its 25th season, the Karalee club has two great hopes contesting the Junior Development finals. Franca Tigani

Tornado warning on footy forecast

THE coaching of a former Newcastle Knights' contracted footballer has the Karalee Tornadoes ready to take the Junior Development finals by storm.

Michael Huckel played at Souths in Brisbane before heading to Sydney to try to crack first grade, making several appearances for the Novocastrians.

His promising career was cut short when he endured a third knee reconstruction.

For the past 10 years, he has been the coaching director at the Karalee club, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary on September 14.

The experienced mentor enjoys giving back to the game he loves and working with the children to ensure they are armed with the skills to compete safely.

As coach of the under-14s, he is entering his fifth grand final.

The Tornadoes did not field an under-13 side this season, so the under-14s are a youthful squad with many members playing up an age group. But you would not know it.

Displaying fortitude beyond their years, the boys have continually punched above their weight and taken the fight up to premier sides possessing much bigger bodies.

It was a similar situation last season when Karalee did not have an under-12 team and the same players took out the under-13 competition.

Co-captains Cameron Lake and Caiden Jeffries starred in that triumph and they will be looking go back-to-back when the Tornadoes thunder head-on into Lowood on Sunday at 10.15am.

This could be the match of the day with very little separating the arch rivals.

Minor premier Karalee finished the season with an 11-1 record and Lowood only faltered twice. The decisive clash shapes as an epic to be fought in the trenches and the Tornadoes will need to draw on all of their experience to emerge victorious.

The talented under-14s will not be the club's lone representatives.

From 11.30am, the Heath Tiley-coached under-15s will lock horns with Swifts.

This outfit claimed the under-14 development final last season and will also be looking for consecutive successes.

Karalee finished fifth and Swifts was sixth. The sides are evenly matched, which should make for a gripping contest.

The Tornadoes bested the Bluebirds twice over the season but they are determined not to become complacent.

"The coaching director has told them it is not over until it is over," club president Amy Huckel said.

"We're never too cocky. Never too confident.

"Teamwork will be the key - communication and keeping the eyes on the prize under pressure."

Huckel said the club's junior program emphasised fun, fitness and friendship with the focus on instilling players with the necessary knowledge and values of sportsmanship and work ethic.

Entry for all games will be free on Sunday and the Rugby League Ipswich Community is encouraged to head along and support the junior clubs.

Game Day

Sunday's RLI Junior Development finals at the North Ipswich Reserve.

9am: Under 13 - Swifts v Norths.

10.15am: Under 14 - Karalee v Lowood.

11.30am: Under 15 - Swifts v Karalee/Lowood.

1pm: Under 16 -West End v Springfield.

2.30pm: Under 18 - Brothers v Swifts.

Entry is free.



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