Round 1 of the Intrust Super Cup - supporting Zaidee’s Rainbow Foundation - kicks off this wekend with seven great games expected throughout the weekend. QRL Media preview the round below.
IPSWICH JETS v NORTHS DEVILS
North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday, March 5 at 3.15pm
Referee: Peter Gough
Head-to-Head: Norths 23 Ipswich 14 Drawn 2
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #JETSvDEVILS
After securing twin titles last season, the spotlight will be firmly on the new-look Jets when they begin their 2016 campaign against the Norths Devils at home. Nine players who took part in Ipswich’s Intrust Super Cup grand final win over Townsville will start against the Devils on Saturday. The line-up includes crowd favourites in speedster Marmin Barba and hard man Billy McConnachie – two players who only a few weeks ago were not part of the club’s plans. Potent try-scoring weapon Barba is back in the green and white after his rugby union experiment, while McConnachie returns after gaining a release from the Wests Tigers to join Ipswich’s NRL affiliate the Brisbane Broncos. Norths have an abundance of Broncos talent on their books with the likes of Francis Molo, Brett Greinke, Jai Arrow and Jayden Berrell in the Mark Gliddon-coached line-up. One player the Jets will need to mark closely is classy utility Billy Brittain, whose speed on the edges will pose a major threat to the defending premiers.
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS v REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS
Jack Manski Oval on Saturday, March 5 – 4pm
Referee: Jarrod Cole
Head-to-Head: Townsville 2 Redcliffe 0
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #TSVBvPHINS
Former Maroons Origin winger Adam Mogg takes the Dolphins’ coaching reins for his first premiership fixture in charge of the Peninsula club. And the ex-Sunshine Coast mentor and NZ Warriors assistant won’t have the luxury of easing into his work either, with the Dolphins drawn to play Intrust Super Cup favourites the Townsville Blackhawks in the North Queensland humidity. The Round 1 clash will be the Blackhawks’ first chance to atone after last year’s grand final loss to the Ipswich Jets. Six players from last year’s grand final team have been named to play in the season opener. The new-look forward pack includes Cowboys prop Sam Hoare, who played with the Mackay Cutters last year. Redcliffe will field an exciting halves pairing with young Broncos Zach Strasser and Darren Nicholls charged with igniting their attack. In milestone news, Dolphins recruit and former Cutters forward Chris Gesch turns out for his 100th game in the Intrust Super Cup.
MACKAY CUTTERS v CQ CAPRAS
Stadium Mackay on Saturday, March 5 at 6pm
Referee: Ben Watts
Head-to-Head: Mackay 11 Central 4
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #MCvCQC
Former Cutters premiership-winning coach Kim Williams goes up against his old club for the first time in this intriguing opening round clash in Mackay. Williams’ move to Rockhampton paved the way for his former assistant David Simpson to assume the Mackay head coaching role. Simpson has been encouraged by the Cutters’ pre-season work leading into Saturday’s Stadium Mackay clash. Cowboy Matthew Wright starts for the home side at centre, while a host of recruits – including former Raider Patrick Mago – will debut in Mackay colours. Some regular faces return, including fullback Liam Taylor who draws level with Jardine Bobongie as the club’s most capped player (105 games). Central will field a vastly different line-up to the one that finished last year, but old heads remain in Matt Minto, Gavin Hiscox and Reece Baker.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS v NORTHERN PRIDE
Sunshine Coast Stadium on Sunday, March 6 12.40pm* (Live on Channel 9 / WIN / NBN)
Referee: Chris Butler
Head-to-Head: Pride 9 Sunny Coast 6
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #SCFvPRIDE
The Channel 9 cameras will be at the Sunshine Coast this weekend to capture a new-look Falcons side hosting northern powerhouse the Pride. The home side are tipped to be big movers this season, with new coach Craig Ingebrigtsen assembling a formidable-looking squad in the off-season. Not only does the former Tigers mentor have some key Storm talent at his disposal, the recruitment of Bears duo Ryley Jacks and Nafe Seluini in crucial positions is expected to reap rewards on the field. For the second year running, the Pride have lost some key personnel with the retirements last season of several club stalwarts – including co-captains Jason Roos and Brett Anderson. However, with some exciting young talent having joined the club and a new Portability Program devised with the Cairns and District Rugby League to draw from – they are expected to once again be a tough team to beat. The side will field four debutants in this match, but coach Joe O’Callaghan told the Cairns Post he believes the club have improved their depth this season.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS v EASTS TIGERS
Piggabeen Sports on Sunday, March 6 at 2pm
Referee: Tim Rutherford
Head-to-Head: Pride 9 Sunny Coast 6
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #THSvTIGES
Livestream: Tiger TV
Shannon Walker is back! Those who recall his exploits when he last donned the black and white of the Seagulls will be excited to see what he can produce this season. Named at fullback – he is one of a number of players who are returning to the club this year, with halves duo Sam Irwin and Michael Burgess back from a stint in France and imposing forward Cory Blair putting his hand up for Cup duties once again after a season of local league. While the Tigers will field a mostly youthful side – new coach Scott Sipple will be familiar with their abilities, having been involved in the lower grades of the club for a number of seasons. Taking over from Craig Ingebrigtsen (who has moved to the Falcons) – Sipple told guests at the Intrust Super Cup season launch that he had high hopes for his young squad, including Tongan international Daniel Foster who will join Brent Warr in the halves. The recent history between the two sides has seen the Seagulls take the honours in four of the past five games played at Piggabeen.
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES v PNG HUNTERS
Davies Park on Sunday, March 6 at 2.05pm
Referee: Nick Pelgrave
Head-to-Head: PNG 4 Souths Logan 0
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #SLMvPNG
Live Stream: QRL Live Stream
In a repeat of Round 1 last year, Souths Logan will host the Hunters to open their season. PNG have never lost to the Magpies and will be hoping to maintain their record – but they will have to do it with a relatively inexperienced team. Former skipper and five-eighth Israel Eliab departure will leave a large void in the side, while the loss of rampaging forward Willie Minoga will be equally difficult to fill – but the Hunters have shown they are capable of unearthing new talent. With a sprinkling of talented fringe Broncos added the to team, the Magpies have a real chance to start the season on the front foot, with developing players Sam Scarlett and Herman Ese’ese set to provide some spark. This match will also be the 50th match for the Hunters who have won 32 of those matches; drawn three and lost 14. This is the half-century milestone for coach Michael Marum (the 43rd coach to reach 50 games) and crafty rake Wartovo Puara, who is the only player to play all 50 Hunter games.
WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS v BURLEIGH BEARS
BMD Kougari Oval on Sunday, March 6 at 3pm
Referee: Chris Anderson
Head-to-Head: Burleigh 17 Wynnum 16 Drawn 3
Twitter: #intrustsupercup #WYNvBEARS
Livestream: Wynnum Manly TV
Having been bestowed with the captaincy this season, the extra responsibility is expected to sit well with reigning Courier Mail Medallist Patrick Templeman – who took home last year’s Best and Fairest honours by an impressive margin. Compared to other sides, the Seagulls have not seen much player movement in the off-season, but have added some impressive recruits to their core line-up including prop Magnus Stromquist and hooker Mitchell Cronin. Despite losing a number of key personnel in the off-season to the NRL and other Cup clubs, the Bears have recruited well and will welcome back damaging prop Luke Page. Experienced Cup players Jamal Fogarty and Cameron Cullen will made their Bears Cup debuts and will pair up in the halves. Former Raider and Shark Sami Sauiluma has been named at centre for the Bears, despite reports he is on his way to the Super League. While the head-to-head tally for the two sides is fairly even, the Seagulls have won four of the past five games between the two sides.
*statistics courtesy Brad Tallon