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Regional Queensland digs deep for junior league

A whopping $24,130 has been donated to junior rugby league in Queensland, thanks to the humbling generosity on show at the recent Auswide Bank Regional Roadshow.

Visiting Townsville, Mackay and Rockhampton with the two State of Origin shields and Queensland legends Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, Michael Morgan and Tallisha Harden; nightly raffles and auctions contributed to the colossal amount - with Auswide Bank adding an extra $1000 to each night's tally for the three junior leagues.

Auswide Bank chief customer officer Damian Hearne said as a proud major partner of Queensland Rugby League, it was great to give regional fans the opportunity to soak up the hype before Game I and raise funds for the next generation of talent. 

"Auswide Bank are very proud of the partnership with QRL and as a regional bank, we are aware how tough the junior clubs have had it over the last 12 months," Hearne said.

"Bringing the two winning shields and four Maroons players on tour was our way to give back to the local clubs and community as a whole and it was a bonus raising much needed funds.

"We thank everyone who came along and dug deep to support local junior rugby league and look forward to watching the next generation of Origin stars develop their skills in regional Queensland."

Rob Hall auctioning off the winning 2020 State of Origin jerseys in Townsville. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL
Rob Hall auctioning off the winning 2020 State of Origin jerseys in Townsville. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL

In Townsville, junior league vice-chair Stuart Cantoni said the $5020 received from the North Queensland dinner would assist in sending teams to Palm Island - an initiative that has been going for more than five years.

"It’s going to make a big difference here locally. We support teams heading over to play in Palm Island and that’s over $4700 a trip on the ferry," Cantoni said.

"We’ve donated more to supporting those teams this year than in the past, so that will go a long way in helping that area.

"The money will also help us keep our junior grounds up to scratch."

For Mackay, QRL area manager Jade Johnson said the $8420 raised would go towards improving the facilities at the local junior league grounds.

RLMD chair Heath Galletly accepting the cheque from Auswide Bank chief customer officer Damian Hearne and Queensland Maroons legend Michael Morgan. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL
RLMD chair Heath Galletly accepting the cheque from Auswide Bank chief customer officer Damian Hearne and Queensland Maroons legend Michael Morgan. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL

"We have lots of little projects in mind at our junior league grounds and this donation will make these exciting improvements possible," Johnson said. 

"One of our aims is to have every junior competitive age group filmed and we are hoping to use this money to build filming platforms on each of the fields to help with this."

Rockhampton junior league chair Michael Fletcher said he was blown away with the generosity shown in the Beef Capital and was looking to use the $10,000 raised to continue growing their junior girls programs.

Proud CQ Capras sponsors Chris and Mel Warren were the successful bidders of the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons jersey in Rockhampton - pictured with forward Tallisha Harden. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL
Proud CQ Capras sponsors Chris and Mel Warren were the successful bidders of the Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons jersey in Rockhampton - pictured with forward Tallisha Harden. Photo: Cameron Stallard/QRL

"It just goes to show how much support we have in the community," Fletcher said.

"One of the things we are looking at is expanding the junior girls competition and trying to get an under 13 development competition up and running.

"It will be a decision of all the clubs on how we spend the money, but that has been a bit of a priority for us given the growth in that part of the game."

Given the immense success of the Auswide Bank Regional Roadshow spreading plenty of Maroon joy across regional Queensland, planning has already begun for next year's tour to bring similar success to the heartland of the greatest game of all.