Over 70 top-flight league players heading bush

More than 70 players with NRL, Super League and international rugby league experience will head into regional communities – some with little more than 1000 residents - as part of 'Get in the Game' Country Week.

Highlights include Australian Test player Justin O'Neill possibly returning to his hometown of Hughenden, former Origin star Ty Williams taking his stacked Northern Pride team to Cooktown, and budding Brisbane Broncos taking off for remote Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The feature round of the Intrust Super Cup will visit all of the above towns, along with Bowen, Goondiwindi, Maryborough, and Lae in PNG.

Goondiwindi is the only location of the seven that has previously hosted an Intrust Super Cup game – way back in 1999 when the Toowoomba Clydesdales played the Logan Scorpions in the border community.

Remarkably, this weekend's fixtures will take to 54 the number of regional Queensland locations (outside South-East Queensland) that have hosted Intrust Super Cup contests since the competition began in 1996.

Of that total, 35 have been made possible by 'Get in the Game' Country Week, supported and sponsored by the Queensland Government.

Some of the NRL-experienced names that have appeared in team lists for this weekend include Bryce Cartwright, Ethan Lowe, Dave Taylor, Javid Bowen, Kane Elgey, Sam Tagataese, Patrick Kaufusi, Jonus Pearson, Sandor Earl, Tom Opacic and Justin Olam.

Interestingly, veteran Michael Dobson will travel to Normanton, where his close-to-300 games of experience in Super League, NRL and Intrust Super Cup represents approximately a quarter of the town's population.

Several of the locations for Country Week boast links to current and recent first grade stars.

Bowen is the home of Corey Jensen from the North Queensland club, Goondiwindi is home to Ethan Lowe and USA World Cup captain Mark Offerdahl, while Lae is where Justin Olam played football before rising through the ranks to the Melbourne Storm.

Maryborough is home to Super League talent and former NRL player Maurice Blair, and was also the first place that Australian coach Mal Meninga's ancestors settled upon arrival in Queensland.

There's plenty of 'big' things to do at Country Week destinations; Normanton is home to the Big Barramundi, Bowen is famed for the Big Mango, while Hughenden has a towering Muttaburrasaurus statue presiding over its rich archeologic soils, home to a bevy of dinosaur fossils.

At each Country Week location there will be events run in conjunction to help develop rugby league and raise funds for the local communities.

In 2017 more than $150,000 in revenue was generated by the regional clubs that hosted Country Week games.

 

2018 'Get in the Game' Country Week: Round 19 Intrust Super Cup (July 21-22)

Goondiwindi – Redcliffe Dolphins v Easts Tigers - Saturday, 1.10pm, Gilbert Oval (Channel 9)

Maryborough –Burleigh Bears v CQ Capras - Saturday, 3pm, Eskdale Park

Bowen – Sunshine Coast Falcons v Mackay Cutters - Saturday, 4pm, Denison Park

Cooktown – Northern Pride v Ipswich Jets - Saturday, 4pm, John Street Oval

Normanton – Souths Logan Magpies v Wynnum Manly Seagulls - Saturday, 6pm, John Henry Memorial Oval

Hughenden – Tweed Heads Seagulls v Townsville Blackhawks - Sunday, 2pm, Flinders Sports Grouns

Lae – PNG Hunters v Norths Devils - Sunday, 3pm, Lae Rugby League Oval.