Lion-hearted Past Brothers front rower Kevin Sherriff was the only Bundaberg player chosen in the Central Crows Men’s side after the Bears took park in the 47th Battalion Carnival at Sunshine Coast last weekend.
The Bears started well with a 24-0 victory over South West Stockmen with supreme centre Shaun Collins notching a double and single tries to fellow high-class 33-year-old five-eighth Clinton Horne and second rower Matt Craven, who made his Central Crows debut last year.
But Bundaberg was then well beaten by Toowoomba Clydesdales 26-0 and Rockhampton Rustlers 34-6.
Coach Antonio Kaufusi said after making a promising start against the Stockmen, injuries took their toll, including with halfback Luke Waters, who started the season with three man of the match awards to guide Wallaroos to a hat-trick of wins, suffering a serious ACL injury.
That was a bitter pill to swallow personally and, if he is ruled out for the season, a devastating blow to Roos’ premiership quest.
“I couldn’t fault the effort, but where we ended up was frustrating because in the first 20 minutes against Toowoomba, who went on to win the title, we were right in the grind, but unfortunately we were the first to crack, but it was a learning experience and we will be better for it for next year,” Kaufusi said.
In double-jeopardy for Wallaroos, Kaufusi said their prolific scoring centre Brandon Law also succumbed to a hamstring injury, which could keep him out of club action for several weeks.
Although there are no BRL fixtures this weekend with the competition bye due to the NRL Magic Round in Brisbane, their next game against Wests on Saturday week.
Easts Magpies second rower Chris Ford was another casualty with a hand injury.
Kaufusi said Sherriff, Craven and Layton Chambers, who was a late addition to the bench following an injury to Jayden Alberts, but was promoted to the wing after the loss of Waters in their carnival opener, received their respective Players’ Player awards.
But he most lauded Sherriff, 26, who became a father for the first time last year and is back to his best after an injury plagued last season, as clearly their stand-out over the course of the carnival.
“Kevvie is not big for a front rower but he was picked as a starting front rower for the Crows, which speaks for itself – he is experienced and tough - it is the third year in a row he has been selected in the team, although he had to withdraw from it last year due to injury,” Kaufusi said.
“The middle of the field is the hardest spot to play in with traffic coming at you all the time, but it was again fantastic the way he held up the middle with tough carries and in defence as well – he just did a great job, like he always does.”
Kaufusi said a few others “also ripped in and were unlucky not to make the (Central) team – the likes of (lock) Reece Maughan and Matt Craven, and Shaun Collins who didn’t get a lot of opportunities to show his class.”
“I also have to give a wrap to some of the young rookies who were playing at this level for the first time, Tyrell Howard who started at fullback, but ended up in the halves after the injury to Luke Waters and wingers Joey Alberts and Arden Lankowski – Arden was one of the boys playing at that level for the first time – he is so tall and it was a good learning curve for him,” he said.
“Layton Chambers was also fantastic – he made many tough carries and as a winger, he earnt a lot of respect.
“Our other front rower James Prichard, who was the BRL Player of the Year last year, was also very good.”
Bundaberg surprisingly did not win a game in the Women’s 47th Battalion, being white-washed by Sunshine Coast Falcons 30-0 and Central Highlands 28-0 before finishing with an honourable 10-10 draw with Gladstone Raidettes.
No Bundaberg representatives were chosen in the Central Crows’ open women’s side, but two of the Bears’ young guns were selected in the Emerging Women’s side, Courtney Douglas (Waves Tigers) and Brothers’ Zara Johnson-Gamia.