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An explosive opening two rounds of the 2016 Intrust Super Cup season will feature a highly-anticipated grand final re-match and two passionate coaches plotting against their former clubs for the first time.
The paths of 2015 grand finalists the Ipswich Jets and Townsville Blackhawks cross early on, with the rivals facing off at the North Ipswich Reserve as part of the Jets’ Defence Force Appreciation initiative in Round 2.
Adding further spice to the second round is the prospect of former Easts coach Craig Ingebrigtsen bringing the Sunshine Coast Falcons to the Tigers’ den.
It’s another promoter’s dream in Round 1 on the weekend of March 5-6 when former Cutters premiership-winning coach Kim Williams returns to Mackay for the first time as coach of the Central Queensland Capras.
While the fierce rivalries will stoke the fire, there will be a much softer side to the Intrust Super Cup in 2016 with the QRL and its 14 clubs determined to further strengthen their community ties.
The community initiatives and themed rounds confirmed for 2016 include:
· Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation – March 5-6, Round 1: (The Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation aims to make organ and tissue donation awareness more prevalent in our community. Proceeds will be shared with the Ackerman Family Trust Fund)
· ANZAC Round – April 23-24-25, Round 8: Match to include ANZAC Day blockbuster between Burleigh Bears and PNG Hunters.
· Indigenous Appreciation Round – May 14-15, Round 10.
· Men of League & NRL Foundation Round – July 16-17, Round 19.
· Country Week – July 23-24, Round 20.
· Women in League Round – August 6-7, Round 22.
· Turn to Me Round – August 27-28, Round 25.
· XXXX Rivalry Matches – to be held at various stages of season.
Channel 9 will again bring fans live Sunday afternoon television coverage over the course of the 25 rounds and finals series.
The competition’s showpiece match is scheduled to be played at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, September 25, with the winner progressing to the NRL State Championship match in Sydney the following weekend.
Queensland’s representative will be shooting for a third-consecutive win in the popular format following the recent success of the Northern Pride and Ipswich Jets.
QRL Competitions Manager Dave Maiden said this match provided another fantastic pathway opportunity for players.
“The Pride and Jets have represented Queensland and the Intrust Super Cup with distinction since the launch of this concept,” Maiden said.
“We look forward to watching the 2016 season as it unfolds and again getting the chance to throw our support behind one of our teams on NRL grand final day.”
All clubs will contest 23 regular season matches (two byes each) in their quest to qualify for the Intrust Super Cup top six.
Maiden said it was not feasible for all clubs to play each other twice as the season would then become too demanding on players, many of whom hold down full-time jobs.
“After consultation with our clubs, we have endeavoured to place a priority on local derbies to ensure the competition’s biggest rivals meet twice,” he said.
“This will help generate further excitement and will allow clubs to attract more fans through the gates.”