Players from as far north as Normanton and as far south as Wallumbilla converged in Cloncurry last month for the annual Outback Junior Muster in the hope of making the Under 14, 16 or 18 Queensland Outback team. 

To a lot of players in the Outback areas, this team is the equivalent to making an Origin team. 

The junior Outback program has only been in existence for the last few seasons, but one of the biggest names to represent the Outback so far is Queensland Maroons debutant Coen Hess, who proudly played his junior footy in Mount Isa.

As in previous years, this year’s carnival saw the Queensland Police Service involved in the community and promoting the benefits for young people in Outback areas to join the Police Force. 

At the pre-game presentations on Friday night, current QPS Rugby League players explained how they can mix rugby league and working for the QPS with many of the players having travelled to Canada and the United Kingdom representing Queensland and Australian in the Police Rugby League competition whilst still working within their communities as police officers. 

Australian Jillaroo Stephanie Hancock was present and spoke about the benefits of being a police officer and being able to represent her state and country whilst being involved in the force. 

The QPS also attended local schools with NRL Development in the lead up to the games.

Murray Hurst from NRL Education and Wellbeing also spoke to the participating players and discussed several issues confronting not only NRL players but rugby league players in general. 

Mr Hurst has attended several of these Outback Carnivals and has become as much a part of the carnival as the footy itself and has made a huge difference to many young adults in the Outback areas.

On the Saturday, the 132 players got down to business, with Southern Outback up against the Northern Outback to not only secure the Arthur Beetson Foundation Shield, but to also be selected in one of this year’s Queensland Outback teams.

The Under 14s started the day with the Northern team proving way too good for the Southern team, but in true Outback style, the teams were mixed and matched for the second game to provide a more even contest and to show the selectors that players from each team were worthy of selection.

The Under 16s was a similar tale in the first game, but in reverse, with Southern being too strong and finishing as convincing winners.

Whilst disappointed about losing the first game, the Northern team didn’t drop their heads and were able to narrowly conquer the Southern Outback side in the second game to hopefully cement a couple of extra spots in the Outback Under 16s.

The two Under 18 games both came down to the wire and were exceptional games with Northern coming out slight winners in both games.

During the day, the travelling QPS team on the road home from winning the Australian Police Rugby league Championships in Townsville battled a North Queensland Invitational team in an exhibition match. 

This game had everything, going down to the wire with the game ending in a 24-24 draw at the final siren.

The overall results gifted Northern Outback this year’s Arthur Beetson Shield, which was presented by Arthur Beetson’s son, Brad.

To conclude the weekend, the Outback Junior Muster dinner was held by the Cloncurry Shire Council with more than 200 players, sponsors, QRL and NRL delegates, QPS officers and government representatives in attendance.

This year’s junior Queensland Outback teams were also announced at the dinner.

The weekend showed that there are so many willing and supportive people in the Outback and with the ongoing support from the QRL, it will continue to flourish and provide the mighty Maroons with many more future State of Origin players in years to come.

The work is not over for the volunteers and the players with the junior Queensland Outback teams competing at this weekend’s Glyn Rees City/Country Cultural Exchange at the Sunshine Coast.

In some cases, players will travel more than 30 hours on a bus just to be involved in this weekend’s carnival but it can be guaranteed that it will be a memory that these kids will keep for the rest of their lives.

2017 QUEENSLAND OUTBACK JUNIOR TEAMS

Under 14

1. Lachlan Anderson (Cloncurry)
2. Preston Raveneau (Charleville)
3. Ben Cash (Carnarvon)
4. Bige Numanbo (Mount Isa)
5. Jack Burns (Northern)
6. Derek Walden (Mount Isa)
7. Nathaniel Dempsey (Mount Isa)
8. Joel Saffey (Charleville)
9. Jack Schulz (Charleville)
10. Chavez Hegarty (Mount Isa)
11. Mariano Kohlhase (Mount Isa)
12. Will Goodman (Longreach)
13. Jack Egan (Mount Isa)
14. Brighton Taylor (Southern)
15. Lachlan Winter (Mount Isa)
16. Ethan McNamara (Cloncurry)
17. Lachlan Teague (Mount Isa)
18. Ezekiel Barlow-Thimble (Mount Isa)

Coach: Derek Brady
Assistant Coach: Ross Stockham
Sports Trainer: Dwayne Kangan

Under 16

1. Ross Tilley (Charleville)
2. Sheqrie Savo (Cloncurry)
3. Troydon Dunne (Cloncurry)
4. Kaleb Bennett (Mount Isa)
5. Leslie Major (Mount Isa)
6. Peter Backo (Mount Isa)
7. Clay George (Cloncurry)
8. Jake Baigrie (Barcaldine)
9. Darcy Ryder (Mount Isa)
10. Bailey Derrick (Mount Isa)
11. Isiah Shillingsworth (Charleville)
12. Alex Smith (Mount Isa)
13. Coby Fechner (Wallumbilla)
14. Jack Radnedge (Charleville)
15. Kent Tanks (Winton)
16. Josh Egan (Mount Isa)
17. Brayden Jones (Mount Isa)
18. Joseph Maufale (Mount Isa)

Coach: Bruce Nott
Assistant Coach: Brendan Coyne
Manager: Chris Waters
Sports Trainer: Chris Murphy

Under 18

1. Dominic Wilson (Mount Isa)
2. Matt Rogers (Wallumbilla)
3. Troy Kum See (Mount Isa)
4. Bennett Ladbrook (Wallumbilla)
5. Joseph Kum Sing (Mount Isa)
6. Dwight Daley (Mount Isa)
7. Jay Steedman (Mitchell)
8. Cameron Price (Augathella)
9. Cody Brummell (Mount Isa)
10. Cooper Roll (Mount Isa)
11. Doega Taukura (Mount Isa)
12. Pasini Pasini (Mount Isa)
13. Ash Steel (Cloncurry)
14. William Dalton (Normanton)
15. Jack Baker (Charleville)
16. Jimmy Kum Sing (Mount Isa)
17. Geordie Ladbrook (Wallumbilla)
18. Darcy McDonald (Mount Isa)

Coach: Mal Macrae
Assistant Coach: Dave Kerrigan
Manager: Shaun Radnedge
Sports Trainer: Laurie Ferguson