5 June 2008

2008 has delivered a string of successes for University of Queensland Rugby Academy (UQRA) graduate and UQ SPORT scholarship holder James Hanson.

After being named in the Australian Squad to compete in the inaugural 2008 iRB Junior World Championships beginning in Wales tomorrow, the promising hooker from Indooroopilly has recently signed a contract with the Queensland Reds for the 2009-10 season.

Part of the World Cup winning Australian Under 19 team in 2006, Hanson was a member of the QAS Reds Academy Squad in 2008, shortlisted for the Ford Young Player of the Year and was named the most improved player for the Melbourne Rebels in the Australian Rugby Championships last year.

“With the Reds it’s a pretty big honour to be in their system next year,” Hanson said.

“It’s only halfway to where I want to be, the next step is trying to get a start and a few games under my belt.”

The 20-year-old has made huge strides since his time with the UQRA in 2005, and acknowledges the contribution the academy has made to his development.

“When I left school I didn’t make it into the Reds Academy but spending a year with the UQRA gave me the skills and conditioning to step up and get where I needed to be,” he said.

Joining Hanson in the Junior Australian Squad are a string of Super 14 stars including Kurtley Beale and David Pocock, with the team ranked 4th in the competition.

More than 2500 fans turned up to watch the Australian Under 20s defeat Fiji 51-27 at a trial in Sydney last month in which Hanson played a solid 20 minutes while overcoming a hamstring injury.

Hanson was a member of the Australian team that came third in the Under 19s World Championships in Belfast last year, and said there would be plenty of motivation to avenge their losses this time around.

“Last year we were missing players in key positions but this year we’ve got those guys back so hopefully we can get some revenge against some of the teams we lost against like South Africa and New Zealand.

“In the pool games particularly we’ve got a big game against England who’ve just won the Six Nations so it’s a must win game to get into the finals.”

The Australian Under 20s play their first game of the iRB Junior World Championships against Canada on Friday, June 9.

Media: James Rigby (jamesr@uqsport.uq.edu.au), Stephen Danckert (07 3346 7520, stephend@uqsport.uq.edu.au) or Kellie-Ann Williams (07 3345 6034, kellieannw@uqsport.uq.edu.au) at UQ SPORT