Bond University Rugby Club's (BURC) rising star Mitch Third has been selected for the Bond University Queensland Country side, which will take on his former team - the University of Canberra Vikings - this weekend in the first round of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC).
The first match of the season kicks off at 3pm this Sunday at Bond University and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Channel 502, providing a chance for state level players to showcase their talent on a national stage.
Third, a goal kicking fly half, was selected for the Queensland and Australian under 20's in 2015 and has been named on the reserves side of the Bond University Queensland Country team.
The squad features nine players with Super Rugby experience, including St.George Queensland Reds and Wallabies lock Rob Simmons. While Simmons has been a member of the Queensland Country squad since 2014, this will be the first NRC match he has played in.
The team will be led by Country’s most capped player, James Tuttle, who hasn’t missed a NRC game since the competition’s inception.
Bond University's Director of Rugby, Sean Hedger, said Bond had produced some top talent this season, including playmaker Third.
Third joined the Bond University Rugby Club this year after a stint with the University of Canberra Vikings. He grew up on the Gold Coast playing for the Nerang Bulls as a junior and featured in The Southport School’s First XV.
"Mitch Third has been a real main-stayer, playing in every one of our premier games this year, so it is fantastic to see him in the mix of the Bond University Queensland Country team," he said.
Hedger said the Canberra Vikings would provide a healthy challenge for the Bond University Queensland Country side this weekend.
"We have a big challenge first up," he said.
"It is round one of the NRC, so it is hard to know how we will perform as a team just yet, but with the Canberra Vikings grand final runners-up last year, on paper they present quite a strong side.
"Most of our team are in their second year and have matured a lot over the past 12 months. The opportunity to play alongside stars like Simmons is a great experience for the up-and-coming players and will really rally the side."
Hedger said the Buildcorp NRC was established to create opportunities for rising stars to play alongside, and form associations with, elite players.
"The Australian Rugby Union established the Buildcorp NRC as a corridor for players into the Super Rugby level from club ranks and has really helped to improve player intensity," said Mr Hedger.
"This weekend's match will allow each player in the squad the opportunity to rise to that next level and we are excited to host Bond University Queensland Country's first game for the season here on the Gold Coast."
Tickets for the Bond University Queensland Country versus Canberra Vikings game at the Bond Rugby Grounds this Sunday, 28 August, are $15 for adults, $10 for concession and $5 for juniors, and can be purchased at www.redsrugby.com.au
For more information on the Buildcorp NRC visit http://www.rugby.com.au/nrc/Home.aspx