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Australia strike gold in recruitment coup

SPOTLIGHT: Australian rugby is celebrating a recruitment win after Frankie Goldsbrough resisted Rugby League’s overtures to sign with the Queensland Reds.

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The 17-year-old will complete his final year at the Anglican Church Grammar School (Churchie) as one of the hottest schoolboy talents in either rugby code.

He’ll head to Ballymore full-time in 2024, where insiders say the centre is a realistic chance of joining the likes of Jordan Petaia, Ben Tune and Daniel Herbert as an 18-year-old Super Rugby debutant.

Goldsbrough was on the NRL’s books at Brisbane, where he played as a lock for Wynnum Manly’s underage sides.

But the teenager knocked back a contract extension in favour of his first true love.

“It felt right to come back to union; I really loved the season last year, have been playing since I was six and only moved to league for a couple of years there,” he told AAP.

“That was my gut feeling from the start and everything lined up and it was the way to go.”

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The Reds are careful managers of their emerging talent but academy boss and former Wallabies wing Paul Carozza said Goldsbrough’s signature was important to trumpet.

“He’s a rugby junior; that’s the sort of player you don’t want to lose,” he told AAP.

“We see him as an elite talent in his age group, so wanted to see him playing rugby and put our best foot forward to keep him.

“He’s a really good player, but also a really good guy from a nice family. The kind of player we want at the Reds.”

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Carozza said the arrival of the Dolphins as a fourth NRL team in Queensland was another threat to their stocks but that Wallabies coach Eddie Jones’ edict to target the likes of Goldsbrough was comforting.

“It is a challenge; everyone’s interested in the best footballers and we want to be in the mix with that,” he said.

“Particularly those rugby-first players like Frankie; we’d see that as a loss [if they play NRL].

“The reality is [with only five Australian Super franchises in total) there’s less opportunities.

“But in his age group he can play Reds under-18s and Australian under-18s for two years, go to a World Cup with the Under-20 Wallabies and there’s Reds Under-19s too.”

Goldsbrough said the carrots of a British and Irish Lions tour in 2025 and a home World Cup in 2027 were hard to ignore.

“But I still haven’t done much yet; another a year of school, then actually make the Reds team and then think about that sort of stuff,” he said.

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