QRL Media takes you to #CountryWeek

They're the 'digi nerds' at QRL headquarters who usually spend their weekends cutting highlights clips, logging stats, and tapping away on their keyboards.

But this round they're stepping well outside their comfort zone, as members of the QRL Digital team head bush for 'Get In the Game' Country Week – to bring you, the fans, all the excitement from the feature round.

The team will be spread out over 2,500km in some of the planet's most remote locations – from Goondiwindi on the New South Wales border, to Normanton in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and Lae in Papua New Guinea.

Some destinations will take the best part of a day to reach as the Intrust Super Cup and State Government bring top-class rugby league to regional communities.

QRL Senior Digital Manager Mitch Wilson is headed to Cooktown, 2000km from Brisbane and home to just 2700 people, where he'll be tucking his laptop under his arm and swapping a long-sleeve business shirt for something more tropical.

"I've never been there before and I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing rugby league's impact in the community," he said, in anticipation of covering the Northern Pride v Ipswich Jets.

"I'm not heading there with any pre-conceived notions, other than it's a long way from home.

"I wanted to cover a game that I'd otherwise be unlikely to visit in my everyday life and demonstrate just how consuming and positive rugby league is across the state of Queensland."

Flying two hours into Cloncurry, then hopping on a bus for a bumpy and dusty five-hour journey to Normanton will be Digital Producer Colleen Edwards.

She'll be following Wynnum Manly and Souths Logan, as two of the competition's original clubs head to the remote outpost, home to fewer than 1500 residents.

"I've covered rugby league in the Gulf and Cape communities for many seasons, but always at arm's length while based in South East Queensland," she said.

"We often write about the extreme travel involved for players in remote communities, but this is a chance for us to taste it first-hand and gain a greater appreciation.

"I'm interested in the community outreach programs that are driven by rugby league in the Gulf, and am aware Normanton Stingers were a front-runner in introducing measures to combat domestic violence.

"To see the outcomes that has produced and get a feel for what else needs to be addressed are things I'm looking forward to as much as the football."

Fellow QRL Digital Producer Robert Burgin will also fly north, destined for Bowen alongside the Sunshine Coast Falcons and Mackay Cutters.

"Bowen's a place that has long fascinated me, both from a demographic perspective and a sporting perspective," said Robert.

"Some of my earliest footsteps in journalism were taken working in Townsville, where I covered a fair degree of local rugby league and I have actually driven through Bowen three times, thought it was beautiful, but never stopped there.

"I was aware, even two decades ago, that Bowen struggled to retain local players because essentially it's 'piggy in the middle'; stuck between two big cities that are just far enough away that people need to move home to find employment and access certain services.

"I've got a heightened passion for seeing rugby league flourish in all areas, and I want to be able to tell some personal stories of people who've invested their passion into keeping the sport afloat."

Database and Innovation Officer Jemma Whitnall is looking forward to a homecoming of sorts as she prepares to arrive in Hughenden to help out as the Townsville Blackhawks and Tweed Heads Seagulls go head-to-head.

Her father was previously a police officer in Hughenden and Jemma, who grew up predominantly in Cairns, still has family friends in the town.

"I feel it's a privilege to be able to assist Country Week become a success in any small way, especially in a place where a little piece of my heart lives," she said.

"I'm looking forward to being immersed in the colour of the community, catching up with old friends and, no doubt, meeting a few new ones.

"With the Hughenden races also happening on Saturday, followed by a jam-packed day of rugby league on Sunday, it's pretty much the perfect weekend."

Elsewhere QRL Video Producer Harry Lee will take the four-hour drive to Goondiwindi to capture the excitement around Redcliffe v Easts Tigers, while South East Queensland Director and noted stats man Brad Tallon is off to Lae in PNG for the first Hunters game in that city.

QRL Media's Living League team of Brooke Seychelle, Rachael Everett, Emily Laird and Bill Scurfield are on the highway to Maryborough, where they will document CQ Capras v Burleigh Bears.

>> Over 70 top-flight players destined for Country Week.

>> Team lists for 'Get in the Game' Country Week

 

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.