The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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TEENAGE winger Tim Yee has given the Redcliffe Dolphins Development Squad another burst of credibility. It's not that the 16-year-old format needs much introduction to rugby league fans after producing a string of State of Origin and Australian players over the years. In one year alone, squad graduates Petero Civoniceva, Brent Tate, Michael Crocker and Dane Carlaw turned out for the Maroons as well as donning national jerseys. A dig through match reports revealed that development squad members who played first grade at the same time include Brent Tate (1999), Trent Clayton (1998), Petero Civoniceva (1994), Charles Vis (2003) and Val Fa'amoe (2003) so Yee is in illustrious company. Squad co-ordinator Brian O'Brien has been there since day one and rates this year's squad as talented as any the club has boasted. "This is a pretty talented squad and I would not be surprised if quite a few don't go on to attain the very highest honours," he said. "This squad is equal to the best we've had." Electrifying winger Yee, a second year squad member, is only 17 and already has notched a handful of Queensland Cup appearances for the Dolphins as well as a players' player of the match award. Red-haired centre Ben Jones, another squad member, has caught the eye of the Sydney Roosters with the club flying the 16-year-old to Sydney for the statewide Jersey Flegg competition. "Ben has impressed the Roosters as he was man of the match twice in four weeks," O'Brien said. "I would not be surprised if the Roosters signed Ben as they have a high opinion of him. "Ben not only made the Queensland Schoolboys side but also the state under 17s side with David Hala and Joel Romelo with the trio playing the curtain-raiser to Origin II. "We ask our squad members to sign a BRL contract, but under no circumstances would we prevent a players from moving on to a higher level in the code." This season's 20-strong development squad, made up of teens aged from 16 to 18 and sponsored for the second year by Classic Sportswear, undergoes skills training once a month as well as dinner every two months to which selected speakers are invited. Topics can include financial advice, diet and public speaking. The squad is divided into three teams which compete against each other for an end-of-season trophy. Junior development officer Grant Cleal takes the on-field training sessions with help from Dolphins premiership players Barry Denduck and Ian Graham and junior coach Steve Peoples. The squad plays two matches against the equivalent Burleigh Bears squad as well as fielding a side in the annual country invitation trial at Dolphin Oval. In another boost for the squad, Southern Cross student Hala has been named in the Australian Schoolboys side to tour Great Britain at the end of this season. A 2005 squad member, Redcliffe High's Luke Capewell, also made the touring party.