The Northern Marlin Men and South East Queensland Women will be out to defend their QRL State Division Carnival silverware on the Gold Coast this weekend.
The Marlins, lead by former North Queensland Cowboys playmaker Grant Rovelli, took out the 2015 trophy and have again named a strong squad littered with Intrust Super Cup and National Under-20s experience.
Former Northern Pride and Tweed Heads utility Davin Crampton has been picked in the second row, while ex-Cowboys Under-20 back Yamba Bowie, who hails from the remote Badu Island in the Torres Strait, is named at fullback.
The Marlins will be joined by the Central Crows, Poinsettias (Brisbane Rugby League) and SEQ (Brisbane Second Division, Ipswich and Gold Coast) in the men’s tournament.
Poinsettias coach Craig Rodgers believed the Marlins were again the team to beat.
“They’ve named a strong squad again, but all the sides will be tough,” he said.
“SEQ have a few Ipswich boys, so that’ll help their combinations.”
See the full team lists and the competition draw: A Grade and Women’s State Carnival
SEQ finished fourth last year but have been bolstered by Jets including Ono So’Oialo, Matt Brown and Ben Sullivan. They’ll feel at home alongside former Ipswich back Brendan Marshall, who’ll captain the side at centre.
The Poinsettias finalised their 19-man squad on Wednesday night, the side’s second of three training sessions.
Rodgers said the squad had gelled well despite having to work with a limited preparation.
“We’ve kept it pretty simple, which is the idea with these types of teams,” said Rodgers, who coaches BRL side Gaters.
“But our ball sessions have been good and the boys are looking forward to representing the competition.”
Redcliffe duo Tyson Gamble and Mitch Wilson are set to start in the halves, while club-mate Hayden Hansen and Wynnum Manly Redland City’s Jeriah Goodrich will share the captaincy duties.
Women’s teams from three divisions will contest the event for the third year in a row, with SEQ out to defend their title.
Jillaroo Karina Brown won the Player of the Tournament in 2015 – she’ll line up at fullback in a SEQ side stacked with Queensland and Australian players.
Torrential rain was forecast to sweep through southeast Queensland on Saturday and Rodgers said an extra few layers of clothing might be in order for those watching.
“We’ll all have to play in it – so it’s just about who adapts the best,” he said.