The inaugural NQ Country Junior Championships held in Atherton on May 11-12 have been hailed a huge success with more than 400 players, coaching staff and plenty of spectators being part of the event.
Innisfail, Eacham, Cape and Torres (known as NQ United) and Mount Isa were the four teams that competed in Under 13-16 boys and Under 14 and Under 16 girls age groups.
Innisfail dominated the weekend despite some stiff opposition by all regions in different grades, with Mount Isa’s Under 13 boys, Cape Torres under 16 girls and Eacham under 16 boys pushing Innisfail all the way.
Innisfail finished with a clean sweep winning all six grades and had three individuals named as Players of the Carnival.
This event presented a great opportunity for double the amount of players and volunteers to be involved in a new representative pathway.
Cape and Torres players and staff travelled by land, sea and air to get to the event, while players from Weipa, Cooktown, Bamaga and surrounding communities and the Torres Strait Islands were also involved.
Mount Isa players and staff had a 17-hour bus trip just to attend the event and after two days of great rugby league, returned home again.
Player of the Carnival
Under 13 Boys: Bill Woodward - Mount Isa - Norm Bradtke Medal
Under 14 Boys: Braithan Ketchell - Innisfail - Chris Waters Medal
Under 14 Girls: Anna Toby -Torres Cape - Joyce Bolton Medal
Under 15 Boys: Jeramiah Callope - Innisfail - Dale Crear Medal
Under 16 Boys: Clayton Dalgety - Eacham - Francis Mosby Medal
Under 16 Girls: Brooke Tongalea - Innisfail - Leanne Thomas Medal
The massive effort of the two regions just to make it to the event was magnificent and QRL Northern Region Manager Scott Nosworthy especially thanked all volunteers and his two staff members in those regions, Sarah Bax in Mount Isa and Terry Abednego from Thursday Island for making it a reality.
Nosworthy thanked Innisfail District and its president Ben Thomson for being a driving force behind the scenes of the concept that will now see NQ Country teams travelling to Townsville on the second weekend in June to take on the regional powerhouses of Cairns, Townsville and Mackay, as well as Northern Territory.
He also congratulated the host Eacham District Junior Rugby League and their hardworking secretary Leanne Thomas, as well as host club Atherton Junior Rugby League club and chairman Luke Stein for their fantastic efforts to get the facility ready for the event and for getting all the Atherton Tablelands clubs and volunteers involved.
Nosworthy also thanked his staff for their efforts prior to and during the event with seven of the nine QRL employees on the grounds to assist.
QRL staff were ably supported by the NRL team in North Queensland who were magnificent in assisting with the organisation, as well as officiating in games.
This event showcased that when everyone works together great things can be achieved.
Partnerships with major sponsors Skytrans, Emu, Tropic Wings Buses Cairns, Cairns Colonial Club, TSYRSA and Campbell's Coaches Townsville also proved vital in order to make it easier for everyone to get there and much more affordable.