IPSWICH JETS v WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS
North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday, March 7 - 3pm
Referee: Tim Rutherford
Head-to-Head: Wynnum 20 Ipswich 16 Drawn 3
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #JETSvWMS
Radio: Switch 1197am Brisbane, Valley FM 94.9 Esk; Phoenix Radio Ipswich
Former XXXX Queensland Maroons flyer Chris Walker is set to play his first Cup game since March 2009 when he scored a try in Ipswich’s 28-20 loss to the Northern Pride. Walker will again don the green and white colours, but this time around he’ll receive guidance from brothers Ben and Shane, who are back for a fifth season in charge of the Jets.
Ipswich has retained the core group from its 2014 squad; and with key trio Matt Parcell, Carlin Anderson and Rod Griffin having completed pre-season training with the Broncos, the Jets loom as a major contender this year. They will also be bolstered by the inclusion of Bronco Daniel Vidot, who is tipped to be thrust into the forward pack by the Walker brothers. Vidot’s muscle will be needed against a formidable Seagulls outfit, regarded by many astute judges as the team to beat in 2015.
The Gulls will unveil a number of exciting recruits, including classy former Bulldog Patrick Templeman. It will be an afternoon of milestones for the travelling Seagulls, with coach Jon Buchanan notching up his 50th game, halfback Matt Seamark his 150th overall and Ben Shea game number 100 in Wynnum colours.
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS v MACKAY CUTTERS
Jack Manski Oval on Saturday, March 7 - 4.30pm
Referee: Liam Kennedy
Head-to-Head: First Game
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #TSVBvMC
As the competition newcomers, many league fans have been eager to see exactly who the Townsville & Districts Blackhawks trot out in their debut match. The waiting game was over on Tuesday when Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf named his 17 for their season opener against fellow North Queensland Cowboys feeder club Mackay Cutters.
In keeping with the pre-season hype, the Blackhawks unveiled a formidable team with an abundance of NRL experience. Former Maroons Origin star Neville Costigan will lead a powerful forward pack that includes skipper Dan Beasley and former Cowboys Ricky Thorby and Anthony Mitchell.
Ex-Eel Lorenzo Ma’afu and former Queensland Under 20s forward Rhyse Martin pack down in the second row. Rhyse is the younger brother of Tyson Martin, who will play for the opposing Cutters in the second row. The sibling rivalry is expected to be as intense as the game itself, as both sides look to get the upper hand in the first northern derby. The Cutters will field a vastly different team to the one that finished 2014, but it is not low on firepower with new five-eighth Cameron Cullen and Cowboy Tautau Moga to feature in the backline.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS v NORTHS DEVILS
Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday, March 7 - 6pm
Referee: Tyson Brough
Head-to-Head: Norths 9 Sunshine Coast 3
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #SCFvDEVILS
Last year, this match wouldn’t have attracted a great deal of attention. How things have changed. Saturday’s clash on the Sunshine Coast is a hot talking point such is the quality of players named in both teams. The biggest shake up has come on the Sunshine Coast, with the Falcons now the beneficiaries of a new alliance with the Melbourne Storm. A quick glance at the Sunshine Coast team list suggests the partnership is already bearing fruit.
Former NSW Origin forward Tom Learoyd-Lahrs is one of nine Storm-contracted players named in Glen Dreger’s Falcons team. Other notable Storm inclusions are 115kg enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona, classy Queensland five-eighth Ben Hampton and back-rower Kenny Bromwich. Bromwich played with Easts Tigers in last year’s grand final but is now dual registered with the Sunshine Coast.
The Norths line-up is also brimming with fringe NRL talent, with Darren Nicholls, Francis Molo, Brett Greinke and Todd Lowrie named in their 17. That Bronco contingent could yet grow, with Jarrod Wallace and Kodi Nikormia rumoured to be possible late additions.
EASTS TIGERS v NORTHERN PRIDE
Tapout Energy Stadium on Sunday, March 8 - 1.40pm* (Live on Gem television)
Referee: Chris Anderson
Head-to-Head: Pride 12 Easts 5
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #TIGESvPRIDE
Live Call: Tiger on Air http://thetigers.com.au/tigeronair/
Due to the World Cup cricket, Sunday’s grand final re-match has been moved to Gem. And the action at Tapout Energy Stadium could be just as ferocious as a Mitchell Johnson bouncer such is the rivalry between the two Intrust Super Cup heavy-hitters. Nine Tigers who played in last year’s grand final will take the field, while eight of the Pride’s 2014 stars return for Sunday’s Round 1 blockbuster.
The big talking point is Shaun Nona’s inclusion at five-eighth for the Tigers. Now contracted with the Melbourne Storm after his breakthrough season with the Pride last year, the gifted playmaker will go head to head against many of his old teammates. New Pride coach Joe O’Callaghan will look to make an early statement in his first premiership match at the helm of the defending premiers.
His chances of a first up win are promising with the inclusion of Cowboys contracted duo Lachlan Coote and Cameron King. Both players are itching to get back on the field after injury curtailed their 2014 season.
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES v PNG HUNTERS
Davies Park on Sunday, March 8 - 2pm
Referee: Jarrod Cole
Head-to-Head: PNG 2 Souths Logan 0
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #SLMvPNG
Live stream: www.qrl.com.au
PNG Hunters have included nine debutants in their 18-man squad to take on the Magpies at Davies Park. The rookies include 2013 Kumul World Cup players Enock Maki and Ase Boas, successful PNG Under 19 Commonwealth Nines captain Warren Glare and young guns David Lapua and Kato Ottio.
Last year’s regulars Sebastian Pandia, Adex Wera, Noel Zeming and Timothy Lomai are among the players unavailable due to injury. After narrowly missing the Intrust Super Cup finals in their debut season in 2014, the Hunters will be difficult to contain this year. Josh Hannay’s Magpies are the first team in the firing line, but with the home ground advantage and several quality additions, Souths will have their own admirers.
Broncos Mitch Garbutt and Travis Waddell are among their inclusions, while second-rower Graham Levu has been named to play his first game for the Magpies since the club’s 24-18 grand final win over Ipswich in 2008. Long-serving skipper Phil Dennis is the only other current Magpie who also played that day.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS v TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS
Dolphin Oval on Sunday, March 8 - 2pm
Referee: Michael Wise
Head-to-Head: Redcliffe 20 Tweed 7
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #PHINSvTHS
Some familiar faces return to the Intrust Super Cup fold at Dolphin Oval on Sunday when Redcliffe hosts the Tweed Head Seagulls. For the Phins, former Courier-Mail Medallist Luke Capewell is back in the red and white after a stint with the Penrith Panthers. Along with assuming the chief playmaking role, the talented halfback will take on the captaincy.
Stepping up to partner Capewell in the halves is English import Bobbie Goulding, one of several classy signings for Troy Lindsay’s team. Like the Dolphins, Tweed have a favourite son returning to their ranks with the selection of Nathanael Barnes on the wing. Barnes is the competition’s all-time leading try scorer with 120 tries in 154 games.
The Round 1 match will be his first game for Tweed since 2011, the club he has scored 93 tries for in 110 games since his 2003 debut. Tweed is renowned for their tough and uncompromising forward packs, but it is their slippery backline that could steal the show this year. Jamal Fogarty and Kane Elgey form an exciting halves pairing and they have an abundance of speed out wide through Barnes, Shaun Carney, James Wood, Davin Crampton and Blake Anderson.
CQ CAPRAS v BURLEIGH BEARS
Browne Park on Sunday, March 8 - 3pm
Referee: Nick Morel
Head-to-Head: Burleigh 29 Central 7
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #CQCvBEARS
Both of these teams have plenty to prove in 2015 and the early signs look promising. Central have lured a number of home grown stars back to Rockhampton, including lively fullback Javarn White and skilful five-eighth Matt Minto.
Minto’s scrum base partner is Russ Aitken, who is playing his first Cup game since Round 21 of the 2007 season when Michael Crocker and Will Chambers were teammates. Central’s big inclusion for this weekend’s Browne Park clash is local CQ talent and Broncos young gun Corey Oates, who will start in the second row.
Burleigh coach Jim Lenihan has named an impressive squad that has been boosted by the return of Kyle McConnell from north Queensland. A heavy injury toll played a part in Burleigh’s downfall late last year but with key halfback Ryley Jacks and outstanding hooker Nafe Seluini back in the fold, the Bears have the strike power to hurt the competition’s best defensive lines.