The Sunshine Coast will this Saturday host an interstate clash for one of the fastest growing sectors of rugby league.
To be held at Noosa Pirates, the GYG Latino Origin is an event that recognises the surprising emergence of South and Central Americans in the 13-man code.
Players from the Latin American communities of Queensland and New South Wales will go head-to-head in a passionate exchange, with positions up for grabs in the 2018 Emerging Nations Rugby League World Championship.
Backgrounds as diverse as Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Chile, Peru and Uruguay will be on display – along with the Sunshine Coast's own dual-code rugby star Kevin McKenzie.
McKenzie, formerly of the Sunshine Coast Falcons, was born and raised in Guyana, a tiny nation of less than a million people to the north of Brazil.
Another from the north coast set to participate is Bribie Island's Pablo Zahoran, a Chilean who first learnt to play the sport while visiting Cape York in Queensland's far north.
Event organiser and Latin American Rugby League co-founder Robert Burgin said that fans would be surprised by the growing level of ability and popularity of the sport in non-traditional nations.
"Five years ago there were zero countries in South and Central America with an international ranking in rugby league – now there are six," Mr Burgin said.
"Marcelo Montoya from the Canterbury Bulldogs has become the first NRL player of Latin American heritage and later this year Chile will become the first Latin American country to play a qualifier for the 2021 World Cup.
"When we started out we had just three players, and that has grown to over 300 identified players of Latino heritage in Australia and hundreds more in competitions we assist in Latin America itself.
"There's a lot of entertainment in the way these guys play rugby league and anyone who knows the feisty nature of South and Central Americans in sport will be unsurprised to learn there is no love lost in this contest."
Made possible by nationwide Mexican restaurant chain Guzman y Gomez, Latino Origin is in its second year and this year has grown from a one-game series to a two-game event.
The first interstate clash of 2018 ended in a 28-26 win to Queensland Latino in Wollongong.
Brazilian samba drums, rare and colourful rugby league merchandise from around the world, and a party atmosphere will all be a part of the day, played as a curtain-raiser to Noosa Pirates v Caboolture Snakes A Grade clash in the Vantage Homes Cup.
Kick-off in the GYG Latino Origin match is at 4.30pm, with a free drumming workshop held beforehand from 3.30pm.
Entry is $7. Any funds raised by Latin American Rugby League will go to assisting the development of the sport in Latin American communities.
The 100 per cent volunteer-run Latin American Rugby League has been supported primarily by Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, Shield Security Pty Ltd, Tattoo Tears, Cast Graphics, IntaGas Services, LS Tax & Accounting Services, Retro-Com Digital TV Specialists, Colombianos en Brisbane, GMA Tourism, EMSA Education and Migration Services Australia, Lichtnauer and Associates Accountants, The Edge Home Loans, Oaky North Lodge CFMEU, ACTIVE Rehabilitation Physiotherapy, Radio Austral and Fighting For Fitness Gym.
GYG LATINO Origin
Saturday, June 9
Pirate Park, Sir Thomas Riley Park
Shields Street, Tewantin
Nick DOBERER – Chile
Iziah ESERA CATRILEO – Chile
Leonel ESERA CATRILEO – Chile
Juan David ESPINAL – Colombia
Jonathan ESPINOZA – Chile/Nicaragua
Hector HILBERTO - Brazil
Anthony MAATOUK – El Salvador
Seb MARTINEZ – Colombia (c)
Sebastian MAYA JIMENEZ - Colombia
David McKENNA - Guyana
Johnny McKENNA - Guyana
Kevin McKENZIE - Guyana
Daniel MEJIA - Colombia
Oscar MENDOZA – El Salvador
Rafael MENDOZA – El Salvador
Bradley MILLAR - Chile
Angel MORRISON – Uruguay/Peru
Marco PEREIRA – El Salvador
Nicolás PERICO DAZA - Colombia
Carlos REYES KIWIKIWI – El Salvador
Daniel RICKARD - Colombia
Brandon RODRIGUEZ – El Salvador
Diego VEJERANO - Colombia
Pablo ZAHORAN - Chile
Andrew ZULUAGA – Colombia
Coach: Brad MILLAR/Robert BURGIN
(Injured/unavailable): Claude JACKSON – Guyana, Trent MILLAR – Chile, Seb SCHUBERT – El Salvador, Matt GARDNER - Brazil
NEW SOUTH WALES CUCARACHAS
Thomas GARRIDO - Chile
Edgar SANTAMARIA - Ecuador
Alvaro ALARCON – El Salvador (c)
Patrick CAAMANO – Chile
Chris BRANTES - Chile
James HORVAT - Chile
Gabriel PAPA – Uruguay/Argentina
Eduardo WEGENER - Chile
Luis FHON - Peru
Brandon TOBAR - Chile
Frank 'Paco' GODINEZ – El Salvador
Mana CASTILLO-SIONI - Chile
Simon DE ARAUJO - Chile
Sean DAY - Peru
Manolo Elisardo FERNANDEZ LARA – El Salvador
Jye SOMMERS - Peru
Eugene ARAYA - Chile
Aaron PEREZ - Peru
Fredy ARTEAGA – El Salvador
Daniel GODINEZ – El Salvador
Jose NITOR-ALVEAR - Chile
Frank ALTAMIRANO - Peru
Diego PAPA – Uruguay/Argentina
Alex EASTMAN - Colombia
Mark JACKSON – Brazil
Coach: Andrew CHARLES