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Northern Pride U18 Captain Tom Hancock was today selected in the QLD U18 Maroons team to take on NSW Country in Bundaberg on Saturday 10th July.
Tom's story is an interesting one and shows just what opportunities are available for young local players through the Northern Pride Academy programme.
Tom's first year of competitive and structured football was in Cairns for the Ivanhoes U16 team in 2008. At the end of 2008 Tom decided to trial for the Northern Pride Academy and while very raw was identified early on as having something special about him. Tom was duly selected in the 2009 Northern Pride U18 Mal Meninga Cup team and commenced training only months later.
Tom initially started a long way down the pecking order in the U18 team due to being a year young and so inexperienced football wise but what he lacked in experience he made up for in work ethic, attitude and willingness to learn. The longer the Academy program went on the better Tom got and by the middle of the Academy season he was one of the first picked week in and week out and finished the season out very strongly.
In 2010 Tom was again selected to the Northern Pride U18 team and was chosen as Captain. Tom again stood out and continued to work hard, improve and develop both on and off the field. His stellar season was rewarded by being named the teams Best Forward and Player of the Year. Following the completion of the Mal Meninga Cup competition Tom was contracted by the Cowboys for 2011 and beyond as well as now being selected to the Queensland Maroons U18 team.
The learning environment, Rugby League specific coaching and development work put into Tom and all Northern Pride Academy players combined with the great initiative of the QRL - Cyril Connell and Mal Meninga Cups - means opportunities and pathways have never been as apparent or reachable from our own doorstep. Tom is a perfect example if to all young local players