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Herbie Farnworth in action for Norths Devils.

A cavalcade of NRL players and coaches have developed their skills in the Intrust Super Cup with another suite of combatants soon to be household names to contest the 2020 competition.

The Queensland Rugby League released next year's draw on Friday with a mouth-watering rematch of the 2019 grand final between premiers Burleigh Bears and Wynnum-Manly slated for round one. 

The clash will mark the homecoming of dual-premiership winning Burleigh coach Rick Stone, formerly the Newcastle Knights head coach.

With the demise of the national under 20s at the end of 2017, the Intrust Super Cup is the competition of choice for the three Queensland-based NRL clubs and the Melbourne Storm to develop their players.

The Storm have long been masters at using the competition to prepare their players for the NRL.

Premiership winner Cooper Cronk played 61 games for Norths Devils, formerly the club's feeder team. When Cronk lined up in the 2006 grand final for Melbourne he had played more games in the Queensland Cup than he had for the Storm.

Cameron Munster cut his teeth with current Storm affiliate Easts Tigers, after moving down from the CQ Capras, before making his NRL debut for Melbourne.

Melbourne five-eighth Cameron Munster.
Melbourne five-eighth Cameron Munster. ©Paul Barkley/NRL Photos

Another potential long-term NRL player for the Storm is 21-year-old hooker Harry Grant who has been plying his trade for the Sunshine Coast Falcons the past two seasons.

Grant, who has played two NRL games for Melbourne, was the Intrust Super Cup hooker of the year in 2019 and is being groomed by the Storm to be the long-term successor to Cameron Smith.

North Queensland have just re-signed middle forward Tom Gilbert until the end of 2022. The 19-year-old was the Intrust Super Cup rookie of the year in 2019 after a stellar year with the Townsville Blackhawks and is expected to make his NRL debut at some stage in 2020.

In the last two seasons alone the Broncos have prospered by blooding the like of Payne Haas, David Fifita, Thomas Flegler and Patrick Carrigan in their affiliate Intrust Super Cup clubs before unleashing them in the NRL.

Outside backs Herbie Farnworth, Izaia Perese and Xavier Coates starred in the 2019 Cup and will be names to watch in Broncos colours in the coming year.

Perese made 140 tackle busts in 18 games for Redcliffe and the 22-year-old former Queensland Reds representative said the season in Intrust Super Cup has him ready to add to the two NRL games he played in 2019.

"I enjoyed my footy again at Redcliffe. Last pre-season, and then going back to play for Redcliffe, was a huge character building experience," Perese said.

"I could have taken it two ways but it was a year of learning and the best season I have had. It was one of the happiest times for me playing with Redcliffe. I got back to the roots of it all at club footy.

"Redcliffe is a really good club to go back to and learn for players who don't get picked in the [NRL] team each week. It is a good stepping stone into getting into the NRL and that is what I am hoping for this year, that I can train hard and get a go."

Izaia Perese in action for Brisbane.
Izaia Perese in action for Brisbane. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

The Cup is not just a conduit for rising stars. It is also a vehicle for NRL players get their mojo back. Titans big guns Bryce Cartwright and Ash Taylor are just two of many who have played in the competition to rejuvenate their careers.

Cowboys coach Paul Green was a dual-premiership winning mentor with Wynnum-Manly while new Titans assistant coach Jimmy Lenihan was at the helm of two Burleigh premierships in a lengthy Intrust Super Cup career.

QRL competitions manager Dave Maiden said Friday's draw release would light the spark for all teams in their quest to make the premiership decider on September 27.

"This year's grand final at Redcliffe was an overwhelming success with all competing teams sharing positive feedback on both the facilities and game-day experience," Maiden said.

"Once again, there's plenty to get excited about for all teams and fans across 23 action-packed rounds, plus a four-week finals series."

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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