After losing their coach, and facing uncertainty as they enter a new era – it seems the junior stocks at Brisbane are still looking good. This time it’s 16 year old Uanga Andriathe, Sudanese national, who has been compared with Wendell Sailor by Broncos recruitment staff. If all the stars align, Andriathe will become the first African to play in the NRL if he chooses Rugby League as his future.
The Broncos are locked in a tug-of-war battle for the rookie, who is a star javelin hurler and will compete at the Youth Olympics in Sydney.
Broncos staffer Peter Nolan confirmed that Andria reminded him of Sailor, this being a big reason they took shine to the strongly built 16 year old.
“We went out and watched him play for his school, St James, in Brisbane. We contracted him at 15 and that’s good through to grade 12 at school.
“He’s really fast but he’s also really good at the endurance end. He’s coming along nicely.
“I’d like to keep him on. His work ethic and his attitude to training is second to none.”
Coming in under the Broncos elite development group with the club, this situation will be reviewed later in 2009 – as the 16 year old is yet to even play Toyota Cup.
The Broncos has always had a large talent pool to draw from, but with the Cowboys and more recently the Titans moving in around their turf – it’s made things a little more difficult. NRL scouting is big business now, with all teams having their spies out and about – if the Broncos are able to nurse this rookie through Elite Development and keep him on track, it ensures the ability of their generation next is right up there – crucial more so, given that so many Broncos players has either retired or moved on in recent years.
But in this case, athletics officials are also keen on snaring young Andria to follow his love of track and field events.
In winning the Pacific School Games javelin gold medal in December, with a record throw of 71.84m, he put himself in medal contention for the next World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy, in July.
It seems he inevitably will be forced to choose between his love for athletics and league, but Andria said he wanted to continuing doing both as long as possible.
“It’s too hard for me to decide. I’m still too young. I guess I’ll take what comes my way,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“I came to Australia eight years ago and now they’re telling me I’ll be the first Sudanese boy to make the NRL. When I started playing footy I didn’t like it, although I like the physical stuff and I know the rules now so it’s not confusing for me any more.”
Possessing a hulking build at 183cm and 100kg, Andria can start on the wing or centre where he has played in the Brisbane local competition.
But Andria’s athletics coach Greg Hallam believes his protege can still make a big name for himself away from the rugby league field.
“He won the Queensland primary schools state cross-country race and he can run 100m in under 11sec,” Hallam said.
“He’s the most extraordinary athlete you’ve ever seen.
“At the national all-schools in 2006 he won the long jump and the javelin, was third in the 100m and second over 200m. He’s capable of being a great decathlete. And he’s achieved what he’s done in athletics on only two training days a week.
“If he was two or three inches taller he’d be perfect for the javelin, but boy he’s got a rocket-propelled arm.”