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Mystery and intrigue surrounds new Volunteers Cup

At the start of most local league seasons, it's generally known what to expect from each team and the brand of footy they'll play on a weekly basis.

Even for new players and coaches who arrive at the start of the year, pre-season trials and early competition rounds typically give a fairly sound indication of how every team will structure their game plans for that particular season.

But with COVID-19 putting a halt to the regulation Rugby League Ipswich A Grade competition, this premise has all but gone straight out the window.

The new Volunteers Cup - a inter-region collaboration between Norths, Goodna and West End from Ipswich, and the Darling Downs' Gatton, Souths and Valleys - is set to bring great mystery and intrigue to all six clubs, but none are shying away from the new and welcomed ultimatum, especially Jae Woodward.

"The Toowoomba sides coming in are a new challenge and a great unknown," the West End coach said.

"We might play up against one of them in a trial match or go out and watch an occasional Toowoomba game, but being able to prepare and get ready to play these sides in the new competition will be different.

"I don't know what they've got and what they don't have and how many guys have jumped from club to club so it's unknown to what the Ipswich competition usually is as you typically know what you're going to come up against.

"But it's a bit exciting there's an unknown there."

Being able to presume how each side may play this season, the one team that has the Bulldogs stumped happens to be their Round 1 combatants, Souths.

"I watched Valleys play in the TRL final last year and I think they play a really good brand of football," Woodward said.

"You know what you're going to get from Goodna... they're going to big, strong and physical.

"For Norths, Mick Newton is back this year and he is liked by a lot of players and will draw a lot of players to their club and with my ties to Gatton, I know a lot of people there and how they like to play their footy."

"But the team we're up against this weekend is the team I know least about.

"[Souths coach] Liam Capewell would've taught a lot of my boys at Ipswich State High School so he'll probably have a better idea than what I will."

 

The wait for Rugby League in Ipswich is finally over!🏉🎉

Posted by Rugby League Ipswich on Monday, 27 July 2020

Despite being unsure of the Tigers come the opening whistle on Saturday, West End are expecting the competition in general to be more physical.

"We just spoke at training about the physicality of Toowoomba as it's more of a physical competition than Ipswich outside of our games against Goodna," Woodward said.

"We've focused on that and with the shortened prep, we've concentrated on our side and getting our defensive structures right and our attacking patterns on song."

Not only is the community club coach looking forward to the intrigue the cross-region competition will bring on the field, but he is also elated at being able to honour his small club's life bloods. 

"We're a small club who own their own grounds and are 100 per cent fully behind our volunteers," Woodward said.

"I might be a bit bias here, but I reckon we've got the best volunteers in Queensland. 

"We have to mow the fields and mark the lines ourselves, and we don't get any council funding and pay all the bills ourselves - all thanks to our hard-working volunteers.

"So to recognise the game's volunteers and play for the Volunteers Cup is awesome."

Round 1 kicks off with a triple-header at North Ipswich Reserve from 1.30pm.

View the draw here.