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6:04pm  Feb 23, 2018

Suns' surprise breeding ground in rugby heartland

Michael Whiting   February 7, 2018 9:40 AM

SUNS TV: Jesse Joyce Interview SUNS TV caught up with Jesse Joyce at his former high school Palm Beach Currumbin.
When you come back here it makes you realise we've come a long way and you take a lot of pride in where you come from.

What was once one of Australia's most dominant rugby league schools is slowly becoming a breeding ground for Gold Coast.

Palm Beach Currumbin High School, on the southern end of the coast, has produced a host of NRL, Queensland and Australian league players over the past 25 years.

They are twice a national schools champion, 10 times the Queensland champion and boast graduates such as Brisbane Broncos skipper Darius Boyd, Ben Hannant and Gold Coast Titans captains Ryan James and Kevin Proctor.

But in recent years that script has flipped.

Despite not having an oval of their own to train on, the PBC excellence program for Australian Rules has produced six players for the Suns since 2015.

The program run by the school, with some help from the Suns Academy, has led to Jesse Joyce, Max Spencer, Brad Scheer, Brayden Crossley, Jacob Dawson, and Jacob Heron (who relocated from Cairns to complete Year 12) all graduating to the AFL ranks.

On Tuesday morning the players returned to the school to run a clinic to year seven, eight and nine students – both boys and girls – as part of the club's AFL Community Camp.

As in their schooling days, they had to make the trek across the road to Palm Beach Currumbin's senior club to conduct the AFLX-style clinic.

"When I got to the school it was a very strong rugby league focus," Joyce told

"You'd go to lunch and there was a rugby league game on and they'd be playing another team from the coast that was a huge rivalry. 

"It didn't bother us. Our teaches made the most of the resources we had.

"We've probably turned AFL into the most successful sports excellence program at the school.

"In my years it started to flip.

"I was lucky enough to come through with a lot of good players and we managed to win everything.

"In fairness, the competition probably wasn't as strong back then, but now the competition is strong and we're still winning.

"League has grown as well, but I don't think it's kept up."

Young ruckman Crossley said the older players like Joyce and Spencer laid the platform for the school's success.

"When I first got here, all the popular kids were all league players and that was the dominant thing," Crossley said.

"But we became the dominant sport. Year 10, 11 and 12, we didn't lose a game.

"Rugby is still the dominant sport in Queensland, but not at our school … it's changed heaps.

"Having six on the same list … it's similar to a TAC Cup team. We're doing something right up here."

Joyce said seeing the transformation over the past seven or eight years brought a huge smile to his face.

"It raises the hair on the back of my neck," he said. 

"When you come back here it makes you realise we've come a long way and you take a lot of pride in where you come from.

"Representing the Gold Coast that way is awesome."