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South East primed for return of Chairman's Challenge

All the action of the South East Chairman’s Challenge tri-series gets underway this weekend in what promises to be a smorgasbord of fantastic representative rugby league kicking off on Friday night.

The best A Grade and Under 20s players from Ipswich, Gold Coast and Brisbane will do battle for regional supremacy at Brandon Park, Acacia Ridge; with all teams vying for the annual prestigious trophy and a place in the XXXX League Championship final to be played later this year.

The Chairman’s Challenge is a superb platform for the Brisbane, Ipswich and Gold Coast competitions that has seen many players progress to the Intrust Super Cup.

It's also the perfect product in showcasing the talent that is spread right across the three geographical locations on show.

Past players such as Onó So’oialo (Ipswich), Jamie Anderson (Burleigh Bears) and former Bronco John Te Reo (Wynnum), have all tasted Cup football after some eye-catching performances in previous years.

With COVID-19 having decimated all representative rugby league in 2020, reigning 2019 winners Gold Coast Vikings will be looking to go back-to-back against their Brisbane and Ipswich counterparts.

This year will also a see a new format with introduction of the XXXX League Championship as announced last week, replacing the SEQ Water Dragons side that is usually selected from this tri-series to play in the previous State Championships.

New QRL South East chair Brian Canavan is excited to see the tri-series back on the rugby league calendar in what promises to be one of the closest series yet.

Brisbane’s coaching staff is well-served with some huge appointments in Wayne Weekes in charge of the Red side, former Central Queensland Capras stalwart Wayne Barnett at the helm of the blue side and ex-Brisbane Broncos forward Scott Tronc taking the reins of the under 20 side.

Brisbane will also be well-represented with experienced players in Valleys Diehards captain Khan Ah Wang, former Ipswich Jets point-scoring machine Michael Purcell and having just returned from a stint in France, ex-Sunshine Coast Falcon Jye Ballinger.

Valleys Diehards captain Khan Ahwang. Photo: Vanessa Hafner
Valleys Diehards captain Khan Ahwang. Photo: Vanessa Hafner

In the Ipswich Diggers side, watch out for rising star Jacob Teevan to work his magic with his halves partner Josh Leisemann and keep an eye on the unstoppable Booval Swift Jericho Tanuvasa, as he is unleashed in what looks to be a powerful forward pack.

Reigning 2019 champions Gold Coast Vikings will have their work cut out for them in retaining the silverware; however on paper, they have what it takes in bringing the trophy back home down the M1.

Burleigh will be well-represented in the side, with nine players selected in the A Grade team and five quality young players selected in the under 20s team, including Currumbin’s outstanding prospect Harry Bryant.

All eyes however will be on Burleigh’s Connor Toia, Southport’s Jarred Morphett and Runaway Bay’s hulking Dooryaan Hape Apiata, who will prove to be a handful for the Brisbane and Ipswich A Grade sides, respectively.

Here is your guide to all the action of the 2021 SEQ Chairman’s Challenge with all games broadcast live and free on QRL.com.au and the QRL South East Facebook page.

Chairman's Challenge Day 1

Friday, April 30

7pm: Brisbane v Ipswich (U20s)

Saturday, May 1

11am: Gold Coast v Ipswich (U20s)
12.30pm: Brisbane Blue v Gold Coast (A Grade)
2pm: Brisbane Red v Ipswich (A Grade)

Sunday, May 2

11am: Brisbane v Gold Coast (U20s)
12.30pm: Brisbane Red v Gold Coast (A Grade)
2pm: Brisbane Blue v Ipswich (A Grade)