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Townsville excited to help launch new era

History will be made this weekend when Mackay Cutters host Townsville Blackhawks in the first ever Harvey Norman Under 19 game.

When announcing the new competition, Queensland Rugby League statewide competitions manager Dave Maiden said it was designed to give players a taste of what was to come if players chose to pursue a playing pathway with the BHP Premiership.

“The vision of the QRL has always been to provide equitable pathways for our male and female participants and the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition begins the statewide representative journey for our female athletes,” Maiden said.

The competition will be played within regional conferences in 2021 to complement the BHP Premiership that launched in 2020.

There are a total of 12 competing clubs, with teams fielded by the majority of Intrust Super Cup clubs.

The Blackhawks will play four competition games during the season, two home and two away, against Northern Pride and Cutters, with the first kicking off this Saturday.

Townville's coach Pete Edmonds said the team was excited and ready to play in the inaugural match.

“It’s a very exciting era for girls rugby league and for their representative pathways,” Edmonds said.

“Some of these girls will potentially have an opportunity to play with the North Queensland Gold Stars this year after the season as well.

“We’ve had a really good pre-season and the girls can’t wait to get out there this Saturday and start playing.”

Townsville Blackhawks at pre-season training. Photo: Townsville Blackhawks Media
Townsville Blackhawks at pre-season training. Photo: Townsville Blackhawks Media

It will be a huge day of football for both the Cutters and Blackhawks with five competitions taking to the field at BB Print Stadium.

The Blackhawks are sending five teams to Mackay this weekend, with the club's second and final trial in both the Intrust Super Cup and Hastings Deering Colts competitions being played along with Round 1 of not only the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition.

The under 16 Cyril Connell Challenge and under 18 Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup teams will also play.

This Saturday marks the first time five of the club's teams will play on the same day, with Townsville's football operations manager Adrian Thomson lauding it as an exciting new era for the club.

“This is the first time we have a female team as part of the club, and it’s something we have been wanting to have for a long time,” Thomson said.

“Although the competitions for our junior teams are only four games each, it is really important for our junior development and pathways.”

Host club Mackay are coached by experienced mentor Marco Peters, who last season guided Mackay Brothers to a title three-peat after Brothers beat their Townsville counterparts 22-4 in the Mackay Airport Cup women's grand final.

Round 2 of the Harvey Norman Under 19 competition will see Wide Bay Bulls, Sunshine Coast Falcons, Northern Pride, Western Mustangs, Central Queensland Capras, Burleigh Bears, Souths Logan Magpies, Wynnum Manly Seagulls and Ipswich take to the field, while West Brisbane Panthers will play in Round 4.