One of rugby league's best nurseries is set for its 39th staging as more than 1000 Catholic school students gather for the 2018 Confraternity Carnival in Charters Towers from tomorrow (July 2) until Friday, July 6.
"Confro" has become entrenched in the rugby league calendar with 48 schools from across Queensland and northern New South Wales contesting games across four playing days.
The Confraternity Carnival has featured some of the best players in the state's modern rugby league history.
Since the Confraternity Shield was first contested in 1980, the Carnival has featured 150 future NRL players including 30 State of Origin representatives and 20 Kangaroos players.
More than a third of Queensland's 2018 Origin squad for Game I and Game II featured at previous Confraternity Carnivals – Ben Hunt, Coen Hess, Anthony Milford, Michael Morgan, Dylan Napa, Will Chambers and Valentine Holmes (pictured below).
They follow the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Wendell Sailor, Matt Bowen, Matt Scott and Nate Myles.
The Confraternity Carnival is staged by the Queensland Independent Secondary Schools' Rugby League and will this year be hosted by Columba College in Charters Towers.
It will be the third time that Charters Towers has hosted the event following 1991 and 2002.
QISSRL president and Padua College Rector Peter Elmore said the Confraternity Carnival brought together teams from across the state.
"The Carnival has grown in size since it was first contested in 1980 but it remains an event in which sportsmanship, respect and fellowship are most highly valued," Mr Elmore said.
"We are proud of the many Catholic schools and players who have contested this event over the decades. While there is a great list of former Confro players who have gone on to the game's highest levels, we're just as proud of the manner in which the Carnival is played."
The Confraternity Carnival was first played among six schools in 1980. It now attracts entries from Brisbane's traditional rugby union schools including Marist College, Ashgrove, St Patrick's College, Shorncliffe and St Laurence's College, South Brisbane. Those schools, who feature in the Associated Independent Colleges competition, will play in a school term league tournament for the first time in 2019.
But the schools from outside of Brisbane will again prove the hardest to beat in the Confraternity Shield competition, which crowns the overall champion in the competition.
Rockhampton Grammar are the reigning champions after their spirited win over Townsville's Ignatius Park College in last year's final in Brisbane.
St Brendan's College, Yeppoon (13 wins), St Patrick's College, Mackay (eight) and Ignatius Park College (five) are among the Carnival's most successful schools while St Mary's College, Toowoomba – the alma mater of Thurston – will field a strong team.
St Mary's Catholic College, Casino, will become the first NSW-based team to play in the Carnival. The team is coached by former North Sydney Bears player Paul McCaffery.
The Carnival is contested in three divisions with matches to be played on July 2,3,5 and 6.
>>> The make-up of the divisions can be found on the QISSRL website (click HERE)
Each team plays two matches of 20-minute halves on the opening two days before finals begin. Some night matches will be played this year featuring Charters Towers-based teams, enabling spectators to watch after work.