Australia's newest rugby union star shone on debut for the Wallabies against Uruguay in the World Cup carnival on Saturday and the search for the next Jordan Petaia will go on when the cream of New South Wales' under-17 players are involved in this weekend's Youth State Sevens championships at Tuncurry's Harry Elliott Oval.
"We saw what Petaia could do in his baptism of fire for Australia in the Cup, and he is only 19. Those players are rare, but you just never know where and when the next champion will emerge," Rugby NSW's senior manager of community sevens, Michael Doyle said this week.
"Petaia is special, but he is only a couple of years older than some of the players who will be at Tuncurry. It just shows how quickly players emerge and how soon their talents are recognised."
An army of 1,500 competing players, youths and young women, in under-17, under-15 and under-13 age categories, will play-off in the 'Sevens', the swiftest and most exciting form of the game, over Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 8.30 a.m. until 7 p.m.
In all, 96 teams will take part in 276 games, statistics which seem to justify the claim that the twin towns of Tuncurry and Forster will host the Great Lakes' largest ever football carnival.
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"It is a massive exercise. Quite apart from the 24 officials we will have from all over NSW, 15 of my own staff will assist in running the operation," Mr Doyle said.
"The Tuncurry-Forster township is an amazing place. What with players, team officials, parents and supporters, I estimate there will be 3,500 people involved in the carnival.
"We know Harry Elliott Oval and Peter Barclay Field well. The whole complex is outstanding. Your local club, the Dolphins, has been fabulous for us in the past. Your secretary, Sue Hobbs, and president, Damian Daczko, are exceptional."
As far as accommodation is concerned, Mr Doyle said: "My understanding is that everyone's in and settled. We're all set to go."
The carnival is seen by Mr Doyle and State officials as a pathway to the national titles with two women's teams and two men's teams to be chosen at carnival's end.
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