Michael Marum brings up a century of games coaching with PNG Hunters, Todd Carney has an opportunity to score his first try in more than a season, and Sam Tagataese is back playing for Norths after a decade away.
Elsewhere, two new coaches go head-to-head in their Intrust Super Cup debuts, several clubs welcome back favourite sons, and there are some lengthy hoodoos waiting to be broken.
Your short and sharp preview to the first round of the 2018 Intrust Super Cup season.
Sunshine Coast Falcons v Burleigh Bears
Sunshine Coast Stadium - Saturday, March 10 - 1.10pm* (Channel 9 TV game)
Head-to-Head: Burleigh 12 Sunshine Coast 5
Twitter: #IntrustSuperCup #SCFvBEARS
- Sunshine Coast finished runner-up last season after leading Papua New Guinea until the final minute of the Intrust Super Cup grand final.
- Burleigh won the last 2 games these sides contested at Sunshine Coast Stadium in 2013 and 2014.
- However Sunshine Coast has won 9 of their last 10 home games.
- Falcons winger Matt Soper-Lawler scored 17 tries last season and played in the Cameron Smith-Johnathan Thurston testimonial game.
- Burleigh finished ninth last season in an injury-hit campaign but have signed 52-game NRL player Blake Leary from the North Queensland Cowboys.
Mackay Cutters v Townsville Blackhawks
BB Print Stadium, Mackay - Saturday March 10 - 6pm
Head-to-Head: Townsville 5 Mackay 0 Drawn 1
Twitter: #IntrustSuperCup #MCvTSVB
- Townsville has not been beaten by the Cutters in a competition game.
- Blackhawks half Zach Dockar-Clay is the grandson of former Great Britain and English international Alec Dockar. Dockar-Clay last year helped Hull Kingston Rovers return to Super League in England. His grandfather played more than 250 games for Hull KR.
- Mackay’s 2013 grand final captain Jardine Bobongie is back after spending time in the Mackay local competition.
- Townsville centre Kalifa Faifai Loa played in the same Cutters 2013 grand final side as Bobongie, alongside the likes of Jason Taumololo and Michael Morgan.
- North Queensland teams featuring in the Intrust Super Cup will again contest the historic Arch Foley Shield, won by Townsville in 2017.
Head-to-Head: Pride 11 Wynnum 9
Twitter: #IntrustSuperCup #PRIDEvWYN
- The Northern Pride have lost their last 6 games at Barlow Park, their worst-ever losing streak there. However - with their game now at Langlands Park - they will have to wait to break their home drought.
- Opposing halves Todd Carney (Pride) and Michael Dobson (Seagulls) have more than 500 games of first grade experience between them in the NRL and Super League. They have both played for Catalans Dragons, Salford Red Devils and Canberra Raiders during their careers.
- Michael Dobson returns to the Intrust Super Cup for the first time in a decade. He played 4 games and scored 40 points for Souths Logan in 2008.
- Carney last year scored 14 points from 7 goals for Salford. In 2010 when he won the Dally M he scored 16 tries and 95 goals for the Sydney Roosters for a tally of 255 points.
- Prop William Bugden pays his 50th Intrust Super Cup game, amassed at the Pride and Tweed Heads.
CQ Capras v Easts Tigers
Browne Park - Saturday, March 10 - 7pm
Head-to-Head: Easts 31 Central 9 Drawn 2
Twitter: #IntrustSuperCup #CQCvTIGES
- Will this be their year? Neither the Capras nor Tigers have won the Intrust Super Cup since the modern State League began in 1996.
- Cameron Smith’s understudy Brandon Smith has moved to Easts and will bind in the scrum alongside NRL-experienced bookends David Tyrrell and Patrick Kaufusi.
- Meanwhile Central have lost their last 7 games at Browne Park and their last 11 games altogether.
- Scott Sipple's 50th game coaching Easts - he has won 28, drawn 3 and lost 18.
- This will be Dave Taylor's 36th Cup game since first playing for Toowoomba in 2006. It is his 11th for Central. Taylor scored 6 tries in his previous 10-game stint for the Rockhampton-based club.
Redcliffe Dolphins v Souths Logan Magpies
Dolphins Stadium - Sunday, March 11 - 2pm
Head-to-Head: Redcliffe 31 Souths Logan 10 Drawn 1
Twitter: #IntrustSuperCup #PHINSvSLM
- Redcliffe have won the last 5 games between these 2 sides at Dolphin Oval and 10 of the last 12 between them at any venue.
- Souths Logan fullback Corey Allan was a Queensland Under 20 representative last year and won the recent Commonwealth Championship Nines with Australia.
- 50th Cup games: Samuel Anderson (all Redcliffe), Cameron Booth (all Souths Logan).
- Manly Sea Eagles recruits Cameron Cullen and Jamil Hopoate are sure to turn heads for the Dolphins.
- Souths Logan ornament Phil Dennis will start in jersey 15 in his 16th season for the Magpies.
Norths Devils v Tweed Heads Seagulls
Bishop Park - Sunday, March 11 - 2pm
Head-to-Head: Norths 14 Tweed 12 Drawn 2
Twitter: #IntrustSuperCup #DEVILSvTHS
* This will be Sam Tagataese's first game for Norths in a decade. In his previous 24 games for the Devils before departing for his NRL career, he notched 20 tries in 24 games.
* Tweed have won 4 of the last 5 games between these 2 sides, and 3 of the last 4 at Bishop Park.
* Norths have won only 1 of their last 8 home games, but Tweed have lost their last 4 away games.
* 50th game for Norths: Luke Pollock (also played two games at Ipswich).
* Two of the rookie coaches in the competition go head-to-head in Ben Woolf and Rohan Smith. Woolf is the brother of Tonga coach Kristian Woolf and Smith is the son of multiple NRL grand finalist Brian Smith.
PNG Hunters v Ipswich Jets
National Football Stadium - Sunday, March 11 - 3pm
Head-to-Head: PNG 6 Ipswich 3
Twitter: #IntrustSuperCup #PNGvJETS
- This is Michael Marum’s 100th game coaching PNG. He has won 66, drawn 4 and lost 29.
- PNG have won the last 3 games between these 2 sides.
- The Hunters won last year’s grand final 12-10 against Sunshine Coast, but have had a disrupted preparation after the death of former team member Kato Ottio and an earthquake striking the region.
- PNG have lost only 1 of their last 11 home games.
- Ipswich unveils Fijian recruit Pio Seci, but former NFL player Silas Redd is still under wraps.
*Statistics by Brad Tallon