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Why Brander jumped at the chance to join Road to Regions

When Annette Brander was growing up, she always got a great thrill every time the Brisbane Broncos visited her school to run clinics.

Now, years later and as an integral member of the club that once inspired her, the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons forward can't wait to reciprocate the excitement she felt when she joins the Road to Regions tour this week.

"When I was in high school, I remember the Broncos came to visit a few times and set up some passing drills and handed out signed hats," Brander recalls.

"I loved sport and started playing league in high school so it was always a highlight when that happened.

"Hopefully we can bring that same thrill to the kids who will be involved in our programs and start a fire in their belly to follow their footy dreams."

Led by game development staff in each area, the tour will see communities in greater Cairns, the Central Highlands and South Burnett participate in activities geared towards improving the wellbeing of the regional rugby league communities, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched in February 2018 to replace the Community Carnival, the annual initiative targets regional and remote areas of Queensland with the specific objective to support and empower rugby league communities to ensure their success and to grow the game.

This week-long program sees both former NRL stars and current NRLW players take part in a broad range of community visits and include targeted educational programs at schools, visits to junior rugby league clubs, and participation in local community events. 

When Brander was offered the chance to be involved and give back, she couldn't say yes quick enough.

"I am extremely thrilled to be a part of the Road to Regions tour," Brander said.

"When the opportunity arose, I practically jumped at the chance.

"I think it’s such a great opportunity to give back to our local communities, especially ones that we don’t often get to visit or don’t always get the opportunity to be a part of these programs because of distance.

"It’s a great way to show them we appreciate their support and want to help grow the game in their areas."

And with the South Burnett region just down the road from where the Sunshine Coast local lives, she can't wait to learn more about the rugby league communities that are in her backyard.

"South Burnett isn’t too far away from where I live in Caboolture, so I’m super excited to be able to visit some of the more rural communities in my area and learn more about them and their love for rugby league," Brander said.

"I also can’t wait to share my experiences and help broach important topics like resilient, wellbeing and looking out for one another."

Brander will be joined by team mate Tallisha Harden and former Gold Coast Titan Tyrone Roberts touring the South Burnett.

In Cairns, Maroons Lauren Brown and Chelsea Lenarduzzi will join Broncos forward Millie Boyle and North Queensland Cowboys gun Javid Bowen; and Tamika Upton will return to her old stomping ground in the Central Highlands with former Queensland Maroons backrower Ethan Lowe.

The Road to Regions tour kicks off the new rugby league season and registrations are now open for community clubs across Queensland.

Visit playrugbyleague.com to find your nearest club.

2021 Queensland Road to Regions tour

Cairns

Tuesday, February 9

  • Gordonvale State School
  • Isabella State School
  • Bentley Park College
  • Holy Cross State School
  • Trinity Beach State School
  • Redlynch State College
  • St Andrew's Catholic College
  • Freshwater State School
  • Cairns District Junior Rugby League

Wednesday, February 10

  • Woree State School
  • St Mary's Catholic College
  • Trinity Bay State School
  • Cairns West State School
  • Balaclava State School
  • Our Lady Help of Christians School 
  • Machans Beach State School

Thursday, February 11

  • Yarrabah State School
  • Caravonica State School

Central Highlands

Monday, February 8

  • Anakie State School
  • Capella State School
  • Capella State High School
  • Clermont Bears Junior Rugby League
  • Dingo State School
  • Bluff State School
  • Blackwater State School
  • Blackwater North State School
  • Blackwater State High School
  • Blackwater Crushers Junior Rugby League

Tuesday, February 9

  • Dysart State School
  • Dysart State High School
  • Middlemount Community School
  • Tieri State School
  • Emerald Brothers / Emerald Tigers Junior Rugby League
  • Comet State School
  • Gindie State School
  • Springsure State School
  • Springsure Mountain Men Junior Rugby League

Wednesday, February 10

  • Emerald State School
  • Marist College Emerald
  • St Brigid's School
  • St Patrick's School

South Burnett

Tuesday, February 9

  • Wooroolin State School
  • Crawford State School
  • Kingaroy State High School
  • Kingaroy State School
  • Kumbia State School
  • Coolabunia State School
  • Taabinga State School
  • St John's Lutheran
  • Kingaroy Red Ants Junior Rugby League

Wednesday, February 10

  • Goomeri State School
  • Moffatdale State School
  • Cherbourg State School
  • Murgon State High School
  • Tingoora State School
  • Proston State School
  • Wheatlands State School
  • Wondai State School
  • Nanango Stags Junior Rugby League
  • Wondai Wolves Junior Rugby League

Thursday, February 11

  • St Patrick's Nanango
  • Nanango State School
  • Nanango State High School
  • St Mary's Kingaroy
  • Cooyar State School
  • Yarraman State School
  • Blackbutt State School
  • Benarkin State School