It's typically a showpiece not to be missed way out west and after a brief hiatus, the Longreach Nines is set to return this weekend.
Previously played as sevens, the revamped format is back as a matinee to the Central West season after the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the iconic event from taking place last year.
"We decided to make the change to nines just purely due to the weather [the hot weather usually experienced in February]," organiser Kailah Rogers said.
"We’ve also changed it to a pre-season event rather than post-season because obviously with COVID last year, no one was playing football, so we thought it might be good to have a run around before all the seasons kick off."
The return of the Nines has got the Longreach community buzzing, with not only the prospect of rugby league returning, but the financial boost that will come with that.
"Most country towns are big footy fans and I think it really hurt them with the whole COVID period last year and having no or very minimal footy, so I’m expecting a big crowd down to watch the Nines on the weekend," Rogers said.
"There is a fair bit of money that will come into the town from the weekend.
"Places like accommodation, pubs, grocery stores and chemists all benefit, which is a big boost for the town, especially after the pandemic last year and still partly this year.
"The more we do a good job of hosting it, the more teams will want to come back and it’s only going to bring more money into the town and another community event for people to go to."
Eight men's and four women's teams will take centre stage at the Longreach Showgrounds on Saturday, making the title and bragging rights highly sought after.
"There’s a good mix [of teams] in the comp this year," Rogers said.
"Outside of the club teams, the Replacements started from a group of St Brendan’s boys who played together. Some of those boys who are from here are all over [the state] now they’ve graduated school, so they get a bunch of their friends together and put in a team and make a social event of it.
"And we’ve got the Getaways who are a Longreach team who normally clean up at touch and they’ve got a few ring-ins from the Central West and are actually quite a handy team as well.
"I think the Replacements are always one of the teams to beat as the defending champions, but I think either Clermont or the Getaways might take some beating as well."
The 2021 Longreach Nines kicks off Saturday at 9am.
Longreach Nines draw
Saturday, February 20 - Longreach Showgrounds
|9am||A||Replacements v Hughenden|
|9.23am||A||Alpha Brumbies v Emerald Brothers|
|9.46am||B||Blackall Magpies v Clermont Bears|
|10.09am||B||Western Reds v The Getaways|
|10.32am||W||Longreach v Hughenden|
|10.51am||W||Mount Isa v Emerald Tigers|
|11.10am||A||Alpha Brumbies v Replacements|
|11.33am||A||Emerald Brothers v Hughenden|
|11.56am||B||Blackall Magpies v Western Reds|
|12.19pm||B||Clermont Bears v The Getaways|
|12.42pm||W||Emerald Tigers v Longreach|
|1.01pm||W||Hughenden v Mount Isa|
|2pm||A||Replacements v Emerald Brothers|
|2.23pm||A||Alpha Brumbies v Hughenden|
|2.46pm||B||The Getaways v Blackall Magpies|
|3.09pm||B||Western Reds v Clermont Bears|
|3.32pm||W||Mount Isa v Longreach|
|3.51pm||W||Hughenden v Emerald Tigers|
|4.30pm||SF 1||Pool A 1st v Pool B 2nd|
|4.53pm||SF 2||Pool B 1st v Pool A 2nd|
|5.30pm||GF||Women's 1st v Women's 2nd|
|6pm||PF||Loser SF 1 v Loser SF 2|
|6.30pm||GF||Winner SF 1 v Winner SF 2|