If there is one title that every club aspires to, it’s this year’s Toowoomba Rugby League premiership.
Being known as the premiers in the 100th year is something truly special.
Just think … in 20, 50, 100 years’ time, you will always be known as the premiers in the centenary season of the historic Darling Downs competition.
Certainly, last year’s top five clubs all have the cattle, structure and depth to give this title a real shake.
Valleys and Wattles will be thereabouts.
Walking into these clubs’ pre-season preparations was an eye opener as it was business as usual.
They look comfortable, confident and there was a quiet, “steely look in their eyes” to bring on the season.
Highfields also have a comfortable aurora about them irrespective of eight players from last year’s preliminary final missing this season.
They still have the cattle and have recruited well, especially up front.
Dalby and Warwick, of all the teams, have some unfinished business.
The Cowboys are rueing a finals series that could have been, but their indiscretions of last season are well-known and now in the past.
It’s all about what these clubs can do come this weekend.
If there is one prediction all the critics will get wrong, it’s Dalby.
They have a very strong side and will be backing themselves with a “nothing to lose” attitude considering they are not defending a premiership.
They have quality players and a structure that is envied by their peers.
It’s hoped Gatton are not starting off the way they did last season with key players missing in early rounds.
In saying that, they, like Oakey, are one season better off after encouraging seasons last year.
The Hawks too have recruited well and seem to have something special looming, whereas the Bears also have nothing to lose and nothing to prove.
Goondiwindi and Souths have confidence coming out of their ears.
Anything less then a surge up the ladder will be a disappointment.
The Tigers have opened the eyes of their peers after a tremendous off season and it’s just a matter of time before the Boars make the finals.
They’ve got their “off the field” right and large crowds, so getting it right on the field should come easily.
The resilience of Pittsworth will be tested, but they have good quality depth and a club structure that is second to none.
Just quietly, they should give a heap of teams a shake this season under a new, experienced and quality coach.
If their own 100-year celebrations don’t motivate Brothers, then nothing will.
They too have recruited well and supporters can be confident that the Brethren are on the right track.
The Toowoomba competition, like most others, have quality young rookie players plying their trade in the next level and aren’t under our noses in the grassroots competition.
However, those players are better when they return from the Western Mustangs, which makes the semi-professional club a very important part of our competition.
The Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup and Hastings Deering Colts teams are a huge part of the TRL and they will go well this year.
In the Hutchies Cup, players to watch this season are the usual suspects like Matt Duggan and Corey McGrady.
They headline the competition and exciting players like Mick Bloomfield, Corey Blades and Haydan Lipp are crowd pullers.
Then there are the new guys like Joe Mua, Blake Mara and Mark Offendahl who will put their stamp on the competition.
All these ingredients make for a wonderful 100th season of the Toowoomba Rugby League.