Former Queensland Maroons State of Origin halfback Scott Prince will make his comeback to rugby league tomorrow as thousands of participants across the state return to the field for fixture matches.
Prince, a 300-game NRL veteran who represented the Maroons and Kangaroos between 2004 and 2008, will don the famed Valleys jersey for their Rugby League Brisbane In Safe Hands Cup match against Pine Rivers at Emerson Park.
Since retiring from the top flight in 2013, the former Wests Tigers premiership-winner has lit up the touch football field and has spent time coaching emerging talent within the QRL’s representative programs.
But now he is ready to make a return to the rugby league field on a massive weekend for the game across the state, with Rugby League Brisbane one of 11 local league competitions getting under way following the suspension of community sport due to COVID-19.
It comes after three leagues – Mount Isa, Roma & District and Brisbane - took the first steps last weekend under the game’s Return to Play COVIDSafe guidelines.
In Brisbane alone, 498 teams lapped up the opportunity, bringing widespread enjoyment to more than 5000 players across the under 6 to under 12 age groups.
Many more parents and spectators enjoyed the chance to be back amongst a buzzing rugby league community as well, with 18,000 people checking in across 50 local grounds via the Eva-Check in app.
With even more venues in operation this weekend, Maroons coach Kevin Walters is encouraging participants and spectators to closely follow the new steps that have been put in place to ensure the health of all.
Walters outlines steps to take to watch community footy
“The State Government have done a tremendous job in keeping Queenslanders safe, and it’s now our turn to do our job,” said Walters, whose junior club Swifts Bluebirds will be in action on the first weekend in August.
QRL managing director Robert Moore echoed Walters’ sentiments.
“It was refreshing to get out and about to various grounds last weekend to see junior players back on the ground enjoying the game,” Moore said.
“Our volunteers, local leagues, QRL regions and QRL staff are to be congratulated for the work they have put in to get us to this point.
“However the unfolding situation in other states is a timely reminder that we cannot afford to become complacent; and we must all continue to follow the rules endorsed by the Queensland Government for both training and game days.”
Moore said he was heartened to see the level of collaboration throughout the various leagues and regions.
“We respect the decision of leagues and clubs who elected not to play for varying reasons during such a challenging period,” Moore said.
“But when one door closes another opens, and it has been pleasing to see many clubs and leagues, with the backing of the South East, Central and Northern regions, adapt so that members can get some competition games in this year.”
Examples of this cooperation across different leagues includes Townsville Norths and Brothers playing in the Mackay District competition; and Toowoomba clubs Gatton, Valleys and Souths joining forces with Ipswich teams Northern Suburbs, Goodna and West End to play in the new Volunteers Cup.