The mighty XXXX Queensland Maroons will once again visit rural Queensland as part of their 2014 State of Origin campaign, with drought devastated Longreach to host a fan day for Mal Meninga’s team on Tuesday, June 10.
For the past four years, the XXXX Maroons have visited country towns which have felt the full force from Mother Nature’s fury and this year it’s the Central West’s turn for some much needed Maroon love.
Queensland Rugby League determined Longreach as the best place to help raise the spirits of drought stricken people from the west, with the annual Fan Day the perfect tonic.
A street parade, function and kids coaching clinic will take place on the day, providing the community with a unique opportunity to rub shoulders with Maroons players and coach Mal Meninga.
Vaughan Johnson, Member for Gregory and Chief Government Whip, has been a driving force behind the exercise, highlighting the importance of the visit for the local communities.
“Rugby league is not only the greatest game of all, it’s also the greatest social game of all,” Johnson said.
“The team’s visit to Longreach will inspire and invigorate people from far and wide, not only rugby league people, but everyone from every walk of life.
“It is important to understand, when the drought finally breaks, it will take at least another three to four years before people both on and off the land return to full earning capacity.
“This visit will help lift their spirits and give people from the Central West something to smile about through these tough times.”
QRL CEO Rob Moore echoed the same sentiments, confirming Mal and the team appreciate the significance of these visits to outback communities.
“These fan days have become a bit of an institution and something we are all very proud to continue,” Moore said.
“Having witnessed firsthand the joys and excitement these visits bring to the people of outback communities who have been through hardships, you can never underestimate the value they deliver.
“We make it very clear the XXXX Maroons represent everyone in the entire state of Queensland, constantly reminding all staff and players of the importance of their support.
“Central West is one of many key focus areas for the QRL. We have been constantly working with the ARL Commission and Central Division officials to bolster administration support in this vitally important rugby league area.
“We are delighted the Commission has agreed to further resource investment, including the ongoing appointments of new administration roles in Longreach, Emerald and Gladstone, some part time and others on a full time basis.”
The parade is set to attract thousands of fans, mirroring scenes from recent Maroons fan days held in Emerald, Roma and Bundaberg where supporters travelled from far and wide to catch a glimpse of their origin heroes.
Travel is no obstacle for the people of the proud Central West region. Their senior competition includes teams from Longreach, Barcaldine, Ilfracombe, Winton and Blackall.
The area’s passion for rugby league is highlighted by the teams’ travel commitments every weekend, as it is not uncommon for some players to complete a round trip of 600km just to take the field on a given weekend.