Round 1 of the Intrust Super Cup kicks off this weekend with some exciting match-ups to launch the season.
Sunshine Coast captain Callum Klein faces off against CQ Capras skipper Gavin Hiscox
IPSWICH JETS v NORTHS DEVILS
North Ipswich Reserve, Saturday, March 16 – 3pm
Referee: Michael Wise
Head to Head: Norths 21 Ipswich 11 Drawn 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #ISC #JETSvDEVILS
New Norths Devils coach Andrew Wynyard will hand exciting youngster Linc Port his debut jersey in the Intrust Super Cup with first-choice fullback Daniel Ogden still a few weeks away from a comeback. Ogden, the Devils’ all-time leading try-scorer with 65, is recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. His absence is a blow for the Devils, but Cairns Kangaroos product Port is more than a handy replacement. The former Wests Tigers contracted junior has impressed Wynyard with his trial form. The Devils will bank on youth with a host of players – including halfback Gary Riccardi (Manly Sea Eagles) and big hitting lock Dan Beasley (NQ Cowboys) – stepping up from national and state under 20 competitions. But the Devils’ biggest asset will again prove to be the steady hand of captain Matt Smith and the sheer class of Broncos hooker Kurt Baptiste. Ipswich have assembled a strong line up, despite losing key trio Brendon Lindsay, Lorenzo Maafu and Ramon Filipine in the off-season. Ex-Magpie Dane Phillips is Lindsay’s replacement at five-eighth, while former Titan Tom Guymer gets a shot on the wing following Filipine’s departure. Maafu’s move to Parramatta could be viewed as the death knell for the Jets by some critics, but the arrival of Jacob Ling and Rod Griffin will ensure the pack still has ample firepower.
QRL Media tips: Norths Devils by 4. The Devils seem to have the wood over the Jets after bundling them out of the 2012 finals. Baptiste controlled the tempo of last year’s semi-final and he again looms as the match-winner.
NORTHERN PRIDE v MACKAY CUTTERS
Barlow Park, Saturday, March 16 – 6.30pm
Referee: Tim Rutherford
Head to Head: Pride 8 Mackay 2
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #ISC #PRIDEvMC
After encouraging pre-seasons, new coaches Jason Demetriou (Pride) and Kim Williams (Cutters) will finally get the chance to see how their players respond to the intensity of a premiership fixture. Demetriou and Williams have taken decisively different paths on their way to the Intrust Super Cup. The new Pride coach has playing and coaching experience in England, while Williams has held coaching and development roles with the Melbourne Storm. Their stories are just some of the sub plots in what promises to be a fascinating opening round match between the two Cowboys feeder teams. The Cutters’ forward pack will be led by co-captains Joel Clinton and Jardine Bobongie. The spark will be provided by livewire Cowboys hooker Anthony Mitchell, whose battle with Pride recruit Sam Obst will be one of the highlights of the Barlow Park clash. Originally from Redcliffe, Obst has carved out an impressive career in the NRL and English Super League and now looms as a key player in the Pride’s 2013 premiership assault. The Pride’s forward pack will again have a heavy presence of Cowboys players, but the majority are from the Far North and have all played for the Pride before.
QRL Media tips: Mackay Cutters by 4. It’s probably not the most sensible tip given the Cutters have never beaten the Pride in Cairns in five outings, but we’ll back the Cutters to start the season with a bang.
SUNSHINE COAST v CENTRAL QLD CAPRAS
Stockland Stadium, Saturday, March 16 – 7.30pm
Referee: Chris Anderson
Head to Head: Central 5 Sunshine Coast 3 Drawn 1
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #ISC #SCSEvCQC
Both clubs don’t have the big names on paper but they do have plenty of young talent. And even more importantly, they’ll play with passion. At last Monday’s Intrust Super Cup launch, new Sea Eagles skipper Callum Klein told QRL TV how much the opportunity to lead the Sunshine Coast meant to him. Capras captain Gavin Hiscox shared the same sentiments, and it goes without saying just how parochial coach Jason Hetherington is about rugby league in Central Queensland. Everything points to a thrilling contest on Saturday night at the Sea Eagles’ superb Stockland Stadium facility. The two teams played out a 20-20 draw at the ground last year. There are a host of new faces in both line-ups, but the Capras have a touch more experience to call upon with the likes of Alan Rothery, Brent Williams and Ian Webster in their 17.
QRL Media tips: Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles by 2. While it’s a fresh start for the Capras under a new coach and management, their away record in recent years is cause for concern. They have not won away from home since June 26, 2011.
WYNNUM MANLY v REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS
BMD Kougari Oval, Sunday, March 17 – 2pm*(Live on Channel 9)
Referee: Nick Kalpakidis
Head to Head: Redcliffe 24 Wynnum 11 Drawn 2
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #ISC #WYNvPHINS
Petero Civoniceva will be the headline act in this highly-anticipated grand final re-match. The Queensland and Australian representative is excited about the prospect of playing his first premiership match with the club he last represented as a teenager in 1994. Civoniceva will have the honour of leading the Dolphins out onto the field in front of what is expected to be a capacity crowd at Wynnum’s BMD Kougari Oval. He is part of a monster forward pack that includes Broncos contracted players Nick Slyney and David Hala, along with experienced pair Isaak Ah Mau and Troy Giess. Throw in impressive recruits Jake Marketo and Fijian born Sarafu Fatiaki, and it’s not hard to see why the Dolphins are one of the early favourites for this year’s title. Not to be outdone, Wynnum have named a classy line up that includes young Broncos Jordan Kahu and Jake Granville. Skipper Luke Dalziel-Don is still recovering from knee surgery and hasn’t been named for the Channel 9 match-of-the-round. Graham Murray, a former NSW Origin coach, will be at the helm of the Seagulls for the first time. There will be no shortage of talking points after this game, and one of them will no doubt centre on who claims the inaugural XXXX Man-of the-Match award.
QRL Media tips: Redcliffe Dolphins by 6. The Gulls have the home ground advantage and the runs on the board after back-to-back titles, but the Phins look in great shape right across the park. Big Petero is the talk of the town, but keep an eye out for former Dragon Jake Marketo who could force his way into the Broncos NRL line-up at some stage this season.
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES v EASTS TIGERS
Davies Park, Sunday, March 17 – 3pm
Referee: Nick Morel
Head to Head: Easts 22 Souths Logan 11
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #ISC #SLMvTIGES
Both clubs have high hopes entering the new season after ‘near misses’ in 2012. The Tigers missed the final five by the skin of their teeth, despite actually finishing the year with more wins than fifth-placed Norths Devils. Souths Logan nabbed the dreaded wooden-spoon, but they had their own hard luck stories after two draws and a spate of narrow losses. But fast forward to the new season, and there is a lot to like about both of these traditional Brisbane clubs. The Magpies have secured the services of some promising recruits who all look to have their best days ahead of them. Halfback Rhys Jacks fits that category and has been crying out for an extended crack in the top grade after lower grade stints with Easts and Redcliffe. The 23-year-old teacher will learn plenty from halves partner Phil Dennis, a veteran of 118 Cup games for Souths Logan. Like Souths, the Tigers will unveil a number of classy recruits with the likes of Todd Murphy, Tom Butterfield and Dane Hogan to line up for the proud Langlands Park club. The Easts outfit will also include Melbourne Storm contracted players Junior Sa’u and Mitchell Garbutt. Easts have won their past two matches against Souths Logan at Davies Park and another win here would be a nice reward for back-rower Leon Panapa who plays his 50th Cup match for the Tigers.
QRL Media tips: Easts Tigers by 10. It just wouldn’t feel right if there wasn’t talk about this season being ‘the year of the Tiger’. So it’s probably fitting that just about everyone you speak to is tipping the Tigers to be a major player in 2013. We’ll jump on board as well and back the Tigers to finish in the top three.
TWEED HEADS v BURLEIGH BEARS
Les Burger Field - Cabarita, Sunday, March 17 – 3pm (QLD time)
Referee: Robert Gallacher
Head to Head: Burleigh 11 Tweed 9
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #ISC #THSvBEARS
Tweed Heads have been forced to switch their home match from Piggabeen to Cabarita following weeks of heavy rain. The venue change isn’t ideal for the Seagulls given that Burleigh hasn’t won at Piggabeen since 2006. However, Tweed should still be hard to topple after a strong pre-season under new coach Aaron Zimmerle, who has given Broncos signing Chris Binge the first crack at five-eighth following the retirement of club great Brad Davis. Tweed have built their side around 2013 co-captains James Wood and Matt King who have racked up a combined total of 317 Cup games for the Seagulls. After missing NRL selection with the Titans, Mark Minichiello will turn out for the Seagulls at lock. He’ll tackle a number of contracted Titans players who will run out for the Burleigh Bears. The majority of Titans players with Burleigh are no strangers to the Bears set up, in particular home grown products like Jordan Rankin and Jamie Dowling. Rankin slotted in nicely in the halves for Burleigh on a number of occasions last year and he looms as the trump card for coach Carl Briggs. In milestone news, Steve Michaels will chalk up his 50th overall Cup match.
QRL Media tips: Burleigh Bears by 6. It’s simply time for Burleigh to stand up and deliver. Watch out for Sam Irwin, whose ability out of dummy half has already caught the eye of Gold Coast Bulletin league guru Travis Meyn.