A former Queensland State of Origin star says his Iona College team won’t lose focus as rugby league makes an historic return to their school oval in Saturday’s fourth round of the AIC competition.
Coach Chris McKenna said the clash between Iona and St Patrick’s College would mark the first time in 35 years that a senior Iona team had been played rugby league at Davine Oval, and it shapes as a dress rehearsal for the 2020 Confraternity Carnival, which will be hosted by Iona.
The hills around Davine Oval are likely to be packed for Saturday’s clash between two teams that were neck-and-neck at July’s Confraternity Carnival in Bundaberg.
St Patrick’s finished 10th of the 48 Confro schools, while Iona was 11th in a tournament that prepared the AIC schools for their first ever term-time league competition.
Iona will enter Saturday’s match unbeaten from their opening two matches while St Patrick’s College has a win, draw and loss from their three matches.
McKenna said the match would most likely be tight and his players would be buoyed by the home crowd.
“While the boys are keen to impress in front of the home crowd and they will give us an energy boost the focus is on getting our defence and attack in order,” McKenna said.
“It will be good to be on Davine Oval, but we’ll treat it like any other patch of grass this weekend.
“St Pat’s will be very tough and we can’t think about other games ahead until we get through this game.”
Iona’s last senior rugby league game was held in 1984 before the school joined the TAS competition in 1985. That competition, and the AIC which began 21 years ago, had only offered rugby union as a term sport until this year.
Due to Iona’s second-round bye and last weekend’s competition break, Iona have only played two games in a month.
This has produced an X-factor around the team that is seen as a genuine challenger to unbeaten Marist College Ashgrove.
But Iona have been impacted by an injury to outstanding back Max Plath while promising hooker Jackson Dodds is battling injury ahead of Saturday’s game.
St Patrick’s have a range of attacking options including fullback William Boland, who was selected in the Confraternity Carnival representative team. The year 11 students is fast and agile, creating a danger for St Patrick’s rivals.
St Patrick’s heads into the game following a draw against St Edmund’s College in round three. St Patrick’s led that match 20-0 at halftime before the score was reversed in the second half for a 20-20 draw.
In other games at Iona this weekend, St Laurence’s College will take on Padua College. Both teams had their sole win in round two but Padua has had a bye.
Marist Ashgrove will face St Edmund’s in the other fourth-round fixture.
Main Image: Iona in action during the 2019 Confraternity Carnival. Image supplied