Premier Players: Queensland, WA and ACT rugby takes centre stage


In our weekly column where we dive into some of the most exciting up-and-comers in premier grade clubland nationwide, the long weekend certainly saw some big performances in clubland.

With most national competitions taking a well earned bye for the King’s Birthday, Queensland, WA and the ACT’s club players take centre stage. Fortunately, the growing quality in the ACT and the West has been noted over the last few years, which is exciting for the likes of the Brumbies and Force.

Kohan Herbert in action for Downlands (Photo by Stephen Tremain)

Kohan Herbert – Loose Forward (Souths Rugby Union Club) 

The last few seasons have been a period of growth for the Magpies in the Hospital Cup. Results have taken their time to trickle in, but it was very clear they had the makings of a great side, albeit one that needed time to mature. 

But in 2023, Brisbane’s competition is a tight race with four points separating the top four, and the chasing pack is not far behind. One of the big improvers this year has been this Souths side, who currently sit in fourth having grabbed big scalps against the likes of heavyweights Easts, and two against UQ.

A big part of this improved form has been the huge growth and work ethic of the loose forwards, and at the top of that group as Kohan Herbert. Many longtime readers are very familiar with this exciting player, with him featuring heavily on both sides of the Tasman and being known for his game sense and work ethic. 

Truth is, he’s an absolute tackle machine. After just eleven rounds, he’s amassed a whopping 111 tackles: the top tackler across the whole competition. Partnered with fellow partners in crime like now-Junior Wallaby John Bryant and Sam Mataafa in the loose forwards, and you have a bunch of boys who’ve proven themselves to be hungry for work and making a nuisance of themselves in general play. 

All three have picked up plenty of tries for their efforts, but Kohan has shown himself to be the glue that keeps the squad together. Right now, it’s a case of WHAT MORE does he need to do to get into Super Rugby? It highlights how much depth Australian rugby has in loose forwards, but it also highlights the quality that could step in should a position become available.

Baden Godfrey – Loose Forward (Tuggeranong Vikings)

Down in the capital, 2023 has been a huge year for the Tuggeranong Vikings. Traditionally one of the closest premier grade competitions in the country, this year the Vikings have grabbed the bull by the horns and opened up a commanding lead at the top of the ladder.

A big factor for that is the performance of the set piece, and the player who has been carving up is Junior Wallaby prospect Baden Godfrey. Product of St Edmunds College and the Vikings pathway, Godfrey has already caught the eyes of the local Super Rugby club, having played in the Brumbies Senior Academy during the 2023 preseason. 

His form has remained solid during the Vikings (as yet) undefeated campaign, with great go-forward and an ability to disrupt opposition play. Making it into the extended Junior Wallabies squad in April but sadly missing out on the NZ tour and the final squad for the U20s Championships in South Africa, expect him to bounce back quickly in club form. 

I also expect a Super Rugby club to come knocking on the door soon for this young player. 

Jhy Legg – Lock (Wests Scarborough Rugby Club)

Speaking of the Junior Wallabies, it was important to note that their final squad heading to the Rainbow Nation contains three exciting prospective players from the Western Force academy, with one (Marley Pearce from Joondalup Brothers RUFC) making their debut for the Force earlier this year.

One other inclusion is Jhy Legg, formerly of Kalamunda Rugby Club but now plying his trade over at Wests Scarborough. This exciting young lock has been turning heads since he made the U15s WA State Rugby team in 2018. Since then, he’s become a regular fixture in the WA U19s squad, and earlier this year, was part of the squad who beat the New Zealand U20s in New Zealand for the first time ever. 

His work at lock is something to behold, with great physical strength and near perfect technique to really push ascendency at set piece. The kid also brings a fantastic attitude to his game: he’s passionate about his rugby and it shows on the pitch. 

At a time when the Force are looking to really strengthen their pathways and produce quality homegrown talent, Jhy has the makings of a passionate future Super Rugby player. Keep a watch on this young gun in South Africa, there is a lot to like. 

Who are the club players that you think are deserving of higher honours? Let us know in the comments! 

You must be logged in to post a comment Login