Gold Coast take on Brisbane and Ipswich and the Chairman’s Challenge

The best of the Coast-2-Coast Earthmoving Cup will represent the Gold Coast at the Chairman’s Challenge tri-series against Ipswich and Brisbane this weekend.

The Gold Coast Vikings will travel to Ipswich Brothers this Saturday and Sunday in hopes of asserting dominance over the South-East Queensland Division.

Local stalwart John Flint (triple premiership winner with Southport; once as player-coach) has taken over the coaching reins and is hoping various club combinations throughout the side will produce optimal results.

“They’ve clicked together pretty well. Training has been unreal. It’s exciting,” he said.

“I’m not going to put a million plays in their head, I just want to get them together as a team more than anything and that puts you in good stead with regards to how they’re going to play.

“If they are successful at their own club and they’re comfortable it rolls over into the rep side.

“We’ve got three back rowers from Tweed, we’ve got three on the right hand side all from Burleigh, our hooker front row and five-eighth are all from Tugun; they’ve got their own little combinations across the team and you don’t need to teach them a lot of things you just need to get them together just to get the feel and get the rapport happening.”

Leading the side is Tugun hooker Chris Thomas. Thomas is a veteran of the local scene and played a crucial role in several premiership wins for Southport before linking up with Tugun this year.

Flint and Thomas have been teammates in the past and shape as a formidable captain-coach combination.

“He’s a very ‘lead-by example’ type of captain. What he says and does on the field is very upfront,” Flint said.

“He’s the kind of bloke who can turn the game. He has a good kicking game, he’s always on the front foot and he’s got that good footy brain.

“He’s got that ability to make something happen when it’s needed. It’s an uncanny thing to have. Certain players just know how to do the right things at the right time and that’s Chris Thomas. When we need it, he makes it happen.”

Flint is also excited about seeing Tweed Heads lock Kobi Mills, Bears fullback Khan Ahwang and halves pairing Keanu Te Kiri (Tugun) and Andrew Battese (Runaway Bay) in action.

“Kobi Mills has got to be the hardest lock I’ve seen play in a long time,” he said.

“He’s as hard as a rock. I was doing some wrestling technique against him on Tuesday and it felt like I was hitting a brick wall, so I’d hate to be tackled by him.

“(Khan) has impressed me a lot. If I had a spot as a Queensland Cup coach he’d be nearly the first one picked.

“He has heaps of natural ability, is a very well-spoken young man, he revs them up on the paddock and points them around the place; hopefully we’ll see a couple of big games from him.

“Andrew Battese and Keanu Te Kiri have been brilliant. They look like they’ve been playing together for the last five or ten years, it’s been really good.”

When putting the team together Flint was conscious to pick players that wanted to play rep football.

Flint wants his team to come together as a cohesive unit and respect the Vikings jersey when they run out against the best of Brisbane and Ipswich.

“The very first time we came together as a group I told them to give themselves a bit of a pat on the back for making it this far and to treat it with respect,” he said.

“It’s not just another game, you’ve been chosen to represent the Gold Coast and the Vikings so first of all do yourself proud and everyone else is going to follow suit.”

The Vikings will travel to Ipswich Brothers for games against Brisbane on Saturday and Ipswich on Sunday.

The open side kicks off at 4pm and 1.30pm respectively on Saturday and Sunday, with the Under 20 games kicking off at 2.30pm and 12.15pm respectively.

Gold Coast Vikings

1. Khan Ahwang 2. Matt Gorman 3. Jayden Hawkes 4. Jamie Anderson 5. Waka Wanahi 6. Keanu Te Kiri 7. Andrew Battese 8. Bryce Thomas 9. Chris Thomas (c) 10. Josh Harvey 11. Shaun Anderson 12. Mat Parata 13. Kobi Mills 14. Ben Tuala 15. Henry Chan-Ting 16. Sam Harold 17. Jarrod MacDonald

Coach: John Flint

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