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Proud rugby league cities to face off in Volunteers Cup

From 1925 to 1972, the Bulimba Cup was where an Ipswich or Toowoomba player would prove himself on the Queensland stage and state their case for a Queensland Maroons jumper.

Toowoomba last won the Bulimba Cup in 1970 by beating Brisbane 18-17 and Ipswich last had success in 1966, beating Brisbane 7-2.

The games between Toowoomba and Ipswich would create history and bring both cities to a standstill to watch their best take each other on.

Jeff Denman, Noel Kelly, John McDonald, Allan Smith, Graham Yates and Gary Parcell would all play Bulimba Cup before selection for Queensland.

In 2020, the spirit of the Bulimba Cup is back; Ipswich and Toowoomba teams will come up against each other again in the first round of the Volunteers Cup at the North Ipswich Reserve.

Ipswich teams Norths Tigers, Goodna Eagles, West End Bulldogs will take on Toowoomba’s Valleys, Souths and Gatton Hawks.

Volunteers Cup Round 1 preview

Gatton Hawks v Norths Tigers

The Gatton Hawks are a club with a proud history playing against Ipswich sides. In the 1970s, Queensland five-eighth Steve Grear was enticed to Gatton.

While playing for the Hawks, he represented Queensland and Australia and helped create a super club.

Queensland players Shane McNally from Easts, Hugh O’Doherty and Doug Muir (both from the Fortitude Valleys) also came on board and the Hawks were a huge part of Queensland rugby league.

Gatton president Matt McDermott said he was sure the Hawks were coming to town to uphold the values of the great Gatton teams of the past.

“We will have a young team, we have been training since last week and it’s been a disjointed preparation, same as everyone, but we are keen for some football,” McDermott said.

“Norths are an unknown quantity at the moment and it might take a few weeks to have a look and see teams' strength and weakness."

On who to watch, McDermott was sure there were plenty of candidates.

“We have three young locals who we see as being Hawks for the next 10 years," McDermott said.

“Our lock Shannon Hicks isn’t a big man, but plays like he is one.

“Half Dylan Flanagan will get us around the field and ask questions of Norths

“Tyson White is our fullback and we are excited by him.”

Norths are a proud club who are celebrating their ‘grand slam’ from 1980- 40 years ago this year when the A grade, Reserve grade, C grade, Under 18 and Under 16 teams all won their gand finals.

Norths are an Ipswich club that has seen the names like Langer and Shearer on the wall in the clubhouse.

Holding the clipboard again in 2020 will be premiership-winning coach Mick Newton.

“It’s a challenge and that’s what we are keen for, football will be back and I think we have prepared as best we can,” Newton said.

“I think the Toowoomba sides will be the same as us, lots of unknowns and just keen."

West End v Toowoomba Souths 

Toowoomba Souths head to North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday with plenty of history. Souths last won the TRL premiership in 1996, but they went big and won all four grades in the year.

Souths are the former home of Bronco Cory Paix and Queensland players like Mick Veivers and Ray Laird.

The Toowoomba side will be keen to stop the Bulldogs on Saturday and club president Heath Farlow was confident that Souths would play a big part in the new revamp competition.

“We will have a lot of young players,” Farlow said.

“Our guys have been training since Friday and are jumping out of their skin for football to be back.

“We have a few young guys that are ready to go; Jordan Lipp is our half and we are confident in his ability, as well as our young front rower Luke Madden.”

The Souths coach is no stranger to North Ipswich Reserve; Liam Capewell played 75 games for the Jets, including featuring in the 2015 premiership.

“It’s exciting, we haven’t had too much prep, but the guys were a bit lost without football, so it gets them out and we will be ready to go,” Capewell said.

“You’re representing your city and region; the Toowoomba people pride themselves on the TRL being a strong comp.

“We have Mitch Tuite who Jets fans will remember from the 2015 BRL premiership side and he’s just a 'Harlem Globetrotter' of league.”

West End is another proud Ipswich club that has produced seven Australian Test players in their 106 years. 

West End coach Jae Woodward was confident in his team's preparation.

“We have been training and preparing for football in some form for a while,” Woodward said.

“Our players are so keen for some football that I don’t enthusiasm will be an issue but all the clubs will be in that position.

“The player I am looking forward to seeing is Trent Manihera-Paul, he’s had a really good pre-season he was in our Under 18 side a few years ago and has come back to play A grade.”

Goodna v Toowoomba Valleys 

Toowoomba Valleys are a juggernaut club and are 101 years old in 2020.

Valleys have dominated the Toowoomba rugby league, producing 25 Test players and 50 Queensland players with 36 premierships in that 101 years.

Matt Schulze will coach Valleys and had his eye on local talent.

“We have a few players that I think can have an impact on the competition,” Schulze said.

"Ben Cook is our five-eighth, a great organiser and defender, Ipswich fans will know Todd White and brother of Jet Ben White, he will play in the second row.

“Dylan Chown will be our captain this weekend; he’s only young very quick and tough for his size at fullback.”

On the other side of halfway will be Goodna Eagles head coach Alistair Taua’aletoa, who was confident the Eagles could build on their 26-22 finals loss to Swifts last year and come back better in 2020.

The Eagles will be representing Ipswich, just as they have since May 18, 1912.

“They are the back-to-back Toowoomba premiers, so they certainly deserve respect for that achievement, but we can’t focus too much on Valleys," Taua’aletoa said.

“Our focus is all about us and getting ready to play football again.

“League is such an important part of Goodna and Ipswich and the community is excited again."

On who to watch this first round, Taua’aletoa was sure some young Eagles would fly on Saturday.

“We have a few players to keep an eye on Leevi Sutton our fullback and Elone Taufa our centre will turn some heads during this competition."