Maroons star Johnathan Thurston meets a young fan in Longreach last year.
Queensland Rugby League (QRL) will again rally behind regional communities this year with the XXXX Maroons to host their annual Fan Day in the northern rugby league heartland of Proserpine on June 30.
The coup for the Whitsunday region was ratified by the QRL Board at its monthly meeting in Brisbane today.
“We have selected Proserpine to continue our theme of supporting Queenslanders who are doing it a little tough,” QRL Chairman Peter Betros explained.
“Unfortunately the area has experienced a downturn in a number of industries, including sugar and mining.
“We hope this exercise will lift the spirits of people and provide a financial boost for the local rugby league and other community organisations.”
Betros said the XXXX Maroons had engaged with thousands of fans in recent years following memorable visits to Longreach, Bundaberg, Roma and Emerald.
“As I’ve reinforced to our Origin players, you go back to these places six months after the Maroons have been there and you can still see the posters up on the walls and the positive effect they leave on the community,” he said.
The full Fan Day schedule will be released following further consultation between QRL Head Office, Northern Division and the Proserpine Whitsunday Brahmans club.
Activities are likely to include a street parade, official luncheon and Junior Maroons Clinic at Proserpine’s Les Stagg Oval.
Numerous top level rugby league players have called Les Stagg Oval home over the years, including former Queensland representatives Eddie Muller and Paul Bowman, along with current Brisbane Bronco Travis Waddell and the late Sam Faust.
Faust, an immensely popular figure who played 24 matches for North Queensland Cowboys, sadly passed away in 2011 at the age of 26 after losing his fight with leukaemia.
He was close to a number of current Maroons stars, including Cowboys playmaker Johnathan Thurston.
The Faust name is still very much entrenched in the Proserpine community, with his father Paul running a local business.
The town’s main business precinct will be awash with maroon when Queensland’s premier sporting team arrives on that final day of the month in June.
QRL Northern Division Chairman Leigh Anderson said it would be a wonderful occasion for the Whitsunday region.
“Being school holidays, this day will provide a unique opportunity for league fans to travel in to Proserpine from Airlie Beach and Bowen and other surrounding areas,” Anderson said.
“The people of North Queensland are extremely passionate about their rugby league.
“They just love it … and it’s not hard to see why after so much success in the north last year with the Pride winning the Intrust Super Cup and NRL State Championship.
“We were equally proud of the Pride’s Cyril Connell Cup victory and the Townsville Stingers’ achievements in winning the Mal Meninga Cup and National Under 18 final against a strong Sydney Roosters team.”
Anderson is excited about the year ahead and believes the sight of hundreds of youngsters playing footy alongside their Origin heroes on Les Stagg Oval will offer one of the highlights.
Proserpine Whitsunday Brahmans have about 250 registered junior players.
The senior Brahmans compete in the Mackay & District Rugby League and are building nicely ahead of the 2015 season after reaching last year’s preliminary final.
One of their key signings is local product Grant Cooke, who played Intrust Super Cup for the Souths Logan Magpies last year.