Capras are spreading the word
They are the most isolated team in the Intrust Super Cup – and this is why reaching out to the full expanse of the area they cover has become such an important facet of the CQ Capras.
On Saturday night, the Capras' Round 12 clash with the Pride will be held at Gladstone's Marley Brown Oval, acting as the main attraction of a day of rugby league that will commence at 8.30am and carry right through until the 7pm kick-off of their game.
Just an hour south of their primary base at Rockhampton, the Capras have been taking a game to Gladstone each year since 2013 as a way of connecting with a part of their catchment that covers some 860km from the Sunshine Coast in the south to Mackay in the north.
Wear your Intrust Super Cup club’s jersey or polo when you visit the competition tent at Maroon Festival this weekend to go in the draw to win a signed football. Winner will be drawn in the afternoon of May 28.
Along with the PNG Hunters, the Capras are the only club currently in the Intrust Super Cup without a direct association with an NRL club (although they have an alliance with the Gold Coast Titans) and thus must rely on a steady stream of local products to keep coming into their system.
The establishment of under-age academy programs has helped to spread the Capras brand throughout the region and the new statewide Under 20s competition will from next year provide a clear pathway for promising youngsters to make their way into the NRL.
Having become the first player to play 200 games for the club earlier this season, Guy Williams is a legend of the club and knows how important it is to reach out to surrounding areas and provide access to high quality rugby league.
“It's important that we give everyone in central Queensland an opportunity to see the Capras play live,” Williams said. “We've played games out at Barcaldine, Emerald, Blackwater, Yeppoon, Capricorn Coast, playing Gladstone every year and we played a game at Miriam Vale one year.
“You want kids to have the opportunity to watch the Capras play and hopefully that gives them something to aspire to.
“You want kids growing up wanting to play for the Capras and then move on from there and play in the NRL if that's what they want to do.”
It's exactly what Cameron Munster did and there is a growing belief that after establishing himself at the Melbourne Storm that a Queensland Origin call-up is not too far away.
Throughout the club’s 18-year history, they have entered into affiliation agreements with the Cowboys, Broncos and now the Titans – but at their heart they remain a local team for the people of central Queensland.
Success has not been easy to come by, but under Kim Williams there has been significant improvement the past two years and the foundations set for future success.
And while their isolation may be the club's greatest challenge, it also acts as one of its greatest strengths in terms of the support they receive throughout central Queensland.
“Because rugby league is so popular up here and we are the representative team for central Queensland, there is quite a standing in the community and the region,” Williams said.
“The new recruits we bring to the club soon realise what it means to central Queenslanders.
“We played Townsville on the weekend in the TV game and a couple of the guys were surprised at how many people follow Queensland Cup and came up to them in the streets to talk about things that happened in the game.
“They learn really quickly how important the Capras are to Central Queensland.”
Did you know?
Anthony Mitchell brings up his 100th Intrust Super Cup game this weekend in the clash between the Hunters and Townsville. Mitchell's Cup career began with the Mackay Cutters when he was contracted to the Cowboys, but he has spent the past three seasons playing for the Blackhawks. Born in Brisbane, Mitchell began his NRL career with Parramatta before stints with the Roosters and Cowboys, finishing with 39 top-grade games.
*statistic provided by Brad Tallon
A former editor of Big League, Tony Webeck is the Chief Queensland Correspondent for NRL.com.