Foley Shield matches kick off in Townsville

This weekend, Townsville will host the regional level of the Foley Shield to pit Mackay, Cairns and Townsville against each other in one of the state's oldest and most famous competitions.

The games between Townsville, Cairns and Mackay will also serve as trial matches for the North Queensland Marlins.

According to former player and current manager of the Townsville Blackhawks Adrian Thompson, the Foley Shield is a jewel in the crown of North Queensland Rugby League.

"It's the history and the unique purpose of the Foley Shield," Thompson said.

"The history dates back to many years ago and it's well documented the number of quality players that have come out of the Foley shield over the years that have gone south and gone to Sydney and played at the highest level."

The Shield has gone through revisions and hiatuses since it began in 1948, but the current structure is similar to where it all began according to Thompson.

"It goes back to the regional level of the Foley Shield this weekend, back to where it all started," he said.

"A Grade sides are picked from the regional Townsville, Cairns and Mackay competitions and they represent those regions.

"It doubles up as a selection trial to pick the North Queensland Marlins that go away to the QRL State Championships."

The Shield is a part of a huge gathering of rugby league in Townsville this weekend, which is seeing various teams at different ages from Under 15s to A grade players take the field.

The Townsville Blackhawks will be in action in two QRL Major Competitions games as well.

"It's a carnival of rugby league in Townsville, in conjunction with the Hastings Deering Under 20s and the Intrust Super Cup games against Burleigh Bears; we also have the Queensland state (schools) Under 15s carnival on at present," Thompson said.

"The Foley Shield starts tomorrow and Townsville is playing two games against Cairns and Mackay on Saturday, and then Cairns play Mackay on the Sunday."

The carnival is only a small part of winning the shield, which won't be awarded until after Cairns, Mackay and Townsville have have played against each other for the final time this year.

"From a Foley Shield point of view; all of the points are taken into account for these games as well as the ladies game that are on in conjunction with the weekend," Thompson said.

They're added in with the Mal Meninga and Hastings Deering Colts and Intrust Super Cup games between the regions and at the end of the season we'll come up with whoever is on the most points and they will win the Foley Shield."

Currently, female games don't count towards the Foley Shield this year, but the Division are looking to add their results to the format next year.

Read more about the updated format for the Foley Shield in 2018 here --> Foley Shield Update