Coolum teen robbed of Sunbowl, college ball shot
A "RIDICULOUS" technicality is set to rob a 17-year-old gridiron star of a grand final and an opportunity to impress in front of American college ball scouts.
Coolum's Calder Shanks, who plays for the Brisbane Rhinos, changed his schoolies trip to Western Australia with 15 of his mates to be free for tomorrow's Sunbowl.
So highly rated is the wide receiver, his Rhinos coach John Booker, a man with NFL experience, said he was capable of Division 1 college ball.
Now that dream is in tatters.
Calder has been playing in both the colts and senior men's divisions all season, but after training on Thursday night, received in 11pm email informing him he was not permitted to play in the Sunbowl.
His coach and teammates were opting to boycott the final, but Calder has forced them against it.
His mum Michelle said her son was heartbroken and questioning whether to give up the sport.
"He told me, 'what's the point of it all, why have I trained so hard for everything?'," Michelle said.
"He actually begged me not to do anything, so it didn't jeopardise the team.
"But we can't sit back and let this happen.
"Calder's absolutely devastated."
She said he travelled down three times a week for training and games, a testament to his dedication.
The email from Gridiron Queensland said:
"It has been brought to our attention that a registered Rhinos Colts player played up in the Rhinos men's team playoff, however did not play in the Rhinos colts game the following day.
The allegation is that Calder had no intention of playing in that game and was in fact on a flight to WA.
We have since received further information from the Rhinos administration that Calder had such flight arranged since July and therefore had no intention of playing the colts game.
Item 3.6 of the GQ Operations Manual makes clear that a colts player may play up however he must play in the division game for that round prior to playing up.
Gridiron Queensland president Nigel Law said because Calder had missed the semi-final meant that he breached the rules and was ineligible.
Mr Law argued the Rhinos had "manipulated" the rules all season and that other clubs had their "noses out of joint".
He said the rule was in place to keep colts players in the colts division and not play up a division.
"The rule we have is that a colts player must play the colts game prior to playing mens, it's in our operations manual and overrules it," Mr Law said.
"Another team was penalised for the same thing earlier in the year."
He said a consideration may be given out if the club can prove any "legitimate" reason why Calder missed the Colts game.
Mr Booker said Calder's potential was division one college ball material and that he had the "biggest heart" to go with natural ability.
"He is basically being punished for playing up a division, they're essentially saying it's cheating, it's crazy," Mr Booker said.
"He is the type of athlete that every coach wants, a true team guy, hard worker, he's a great kid.
"Calder's a serious prospect, I don't tell guys they're a chance at college ball if they're not. He's a talent."
Mr Booker argued there was no clarification for playoff ball that a player has to feature in both divisions to be eligible for the Sunbowl.
Whatever the outcome, Mr Booker said the Rhinos would use the ruling as motivation.