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A little goes a long way in the country, which is why taking one round out of the Intrust Super Cup season to regional and remote areas is a way of sustaining rugby league heartland for at least one more season.

In Round 20 next month Country Week will visit Barcaldine, Charleville and Ravenshoe for the first time, communities of less than two thousand people who will see their population explode in a rugby league celebration.

Other towns who will host matches on the weekend of July 23-24 are Moranbah, Gympie, Mount Isa along with Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, and the clash between Sunshine Coast and Tweed Heads in Gympie will be broadcast live on Channel Nine throughout Queensland.

Travelling with the Queensland Maroons to Gladstone on Tuesday for their annual fan day you are witness to what it means to Queensland footy fans to simply know that they have not been forgotten.

Light amid drought gloom

As president of the Central West Rugby League competition that encompasses Longreach, Barcaldine, Blackall, Ilfracombe and Winton, David Kerrigan has seen first-hand the devastating effect the drought has had on families who have had to leave the region in order to find employment.

That filters down to the footy clubs at senior and junior level and why the clash between Souths Logan and Norths Devils in Barcaldine represents such an important occasion for people who will drive some six hours to see first-class rugby league first-hand.

"The towns out here have been struggling the last three or four years due to the crippling drought and it brings a real boost financially and it boosts the spirits as well," Kerrigan said of hosting an Intrust Super Cup game.

"Just about everyone out here loves rugby league and it brings back memories of better days.

"We saw a huge amount of families leave a couple of years ago when we had a lot of cuts to services and that made a huge impact. To make matters worse we were stuck in the worst drought that I've ever seen and numbers in juniors and seniors, people have had to go away for work which has made it very tough to survive.

"Games like Country Week have really given rugby league a boost to be able to survive.

"We're very grateful and thankful that the QRL bring games out to the Outback."

Spend what they can spare

In such remote communities spread throughout Queensland's central west, annual events and festivals serve not only as a way to bring people together but also to generate much-needed revenue for local businesses.

As he has witnessed previously in Longreach and last year in Blackall, Kerrigan said that people will come from far and wide to flood into 'Barcy' and spend whatever money they can afford.

"We have events and try to all come together and family and friends return those weekends to give the town a boost," Kerrigan said.

"Plenty of people from properties in the bush will come in to Barcaldine for the day or the weekend and pack the town out and really enjoy a great game of footy.

"We had Redcliffe and Burleigh out at Longreach a couple of years ago and we always try to make sure they take back a memory to Brisbane or wherever they have come from and put on a bit of an outback show for them to take back.

"It's great to see really good teams coming out here and having a game in the outback."

Brown ground, Maroon heart

The Queensland spirit that will be on display through the Maroons on Wednesday night continues to rise above the parched earth that has made farming so difficult out west and helps continue to foster the development of exceptional junior talent, no matter the obstacles in their way.

"I think back to when I was a junior at Longreach and sometimes we'd struggle to get a game and our old coach – who is still there – Stan Lasker, he would organise games against St Brendan's College," Kerrigan recalled.

"Dad and other parents and Stan would jump in the cars and drive 700 kilometres to Yeppoon and have a game of football.

"There are a lot of committed people out here and without them we wouldn't have rugby league but then we wouldn't have the Matt Scotts or the Johnathan Thurstons either."

See the Round 20 draw here

A former editor of Big League, Tony Webeck is the Chief Queensland Correspondent for