Fans of the Hastings Deering Colts competition won’t have to wait long to relive one of the best grand final matches when Townsville Blackhawks host Wynnum Manly Seagulls to launch Round 1 this Saturday.
The game has a lot to live up to following last year’s epic one-point, extra-time win by the Seagulls.
Grand final highlights: Wynnum Manly v Townsville
For the Blackhawks, it will provide a chance to start the season with a win and reset after losing out by the barest of margins.
The Blackhawks will enter the 2022 season with a new coach, Stephen Sheppard, who has moved up from the Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup side to take on the coaching role with the under 21 side.
“We have spoken about the grand final... I don’t think you can ignore it,” Sheppard said.
“But you can’t dwell on it either, we have discussed it and hopefully it motivates the players still here.
“This round and the opening few rounds have to be about us, just getting things right for us.
“We have had a look at Wynnum Manly and they’re a quality side no denying that, if we are a little bit off then they will beat us.
“I am excited about another season.”
Match: Blackhawks v WM Seagulls
Round 1 -
Venue: Jack Manski Oval, Townsville
Back coaching the Wynnum Manly Seagulls is Michael Dobson, who was keen to emphasise while the club enjoyed their 2021 success, it was a new team taking part this year.
“I think what will please me most this week is if we are implementing the defence structures we have spoken about in the off-season,” Dobson said.
“We have a lot of players that have pushed up from Mal Meninga and we have lost players to NRL systems, so the grand final rematch isn’t really a thing.
“We have to worry about us, it’s hard to get a read on the other ream this time of year, but we know Townsville will be strong because they always are a strong team.
“Going up there will be a hard game.”
There are six other matches taking place this weekend and all the coaches in the competition are looking forward to the season ahead.
For Burleigh Bears coach Roy Leoni, whose side will play Redcliffe Dolphins in Round 1, the excitement around the squad was palpable.
Match: Bears v Dolphins
Round 1 -
Venue: Pizzey Park, Gold Coast
“It’s been an extended preseason for the players due to competition starting a little later than normal, so they are just generally excited to be playing some footy,” Leoni said.
“We are hoping to keep things nice and simple this week, do the basics really well and be disciplined in the process.
"Rugby league is a simple game and I think sometimes we can over complicate it. If we complete our sets, kick-chase well with discipline then we will go a long way to competing with Redcliffe.
"In terms of expectations, it’s a new-look squad and a lot of our squad are from local Rugby League Gold Coast clubs and spent 2021 playing local A Grade or local under 20s, so I’m excited to see their progression and development over the course of the year.
“As a pathways competition and squad, if we can get a few players push up and play Hostplus Cup, then that will be a bonus.
"We have already had Hastings Deering Colts eligible players Tristan Powell, Tony Francis, Iszac Fa’asuamaleaui and Alofiana Khan-Pereira debut in the first two rounds of Hostplus Cup.”
Their opposition the Dolphins will be counting on the strength of their junior male pathways to lead them this year.
“I think that our strength will be the core of good Dolphins juniors we have at the moment,” coach Ben Te’o said.
“We just want to see the things we have worked on in the off-season on the weekend in Round 1.
“Our focus has been the things we have to get right, we can’t worry too much about the Bears at this stage.”
The Sunshine Coast Falcons were in the finals last year and were hoping to build on what they achieved, starting with this weekend’s match against Souths Logan Magpies.
Match: Falcons v Magpies
Round 1 -
Venue: Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast
“We are looking to see evidence of the work that the boys have put in over the last few months” Falcons coach Cameron Boza said.
“We are expecting a physical game against Souths and I know they will have a lot of lads eager to play.
“Obviously, we would like to build on what the boys achieved last year, but recognise that this is very tough competition and we aren't looking too far into the future.
“We'll be pleased if the boys compete hard, complete our sets well and hopefully the result will take care of itself.”
Magpies coach Lincoln McLeod said he and his side were just looking forward to the football starting again.
“It’s been a long, disruptive pre-season, and I have no doubt all coaches, players and supporters will be looking forward to the weekend’s action,” McLeod said.
“We come up against the Falcons who have a history of producing quality Colts teams and we expect nothing else this Saturday.
“Our focus will remain on what we control and to the application of our principles and structures ensuring we give ourselves the opportunity of performing at our best.
“We have high standards of performance and my expectation is for our boys to collectively play as one unit and to perform with a competitive attitude until the final whistle is blown.”
The coaches of both the Ipswich Jets and Central Queensland Capras are hoping their sides will be compete in every match and learn more about the game each week.
Match: Jets v Capras
Round 1 -
Venue: North Ipswich Reserve, Ipswich
For Ipswich Jets coach Chris Ash, he wants that to start in Round 1 against the Capras.
“I am expecting the boys to execute what we have made a priority throughout the pre-season. If they do this, I will be pleased, and it will give us a good base to work from as we move into the season proper,” Ash said.
“For the season, I expect us to be competitive in every game and improve in our consistency of performance as we progress through the year.”
Capras coach Kane Hardy said many players in his side were yet to play at this level and would be keen for the experience.
“For a lot of our boys, it will be their first experience at this level, playing 80 minutes and playing the six-to-go rule,” Hardy said.
“We have some players that we are really excited about. llami Buli is one; we challenged him this pre-season and he has really responded.
“Also Thallon Peters, he’s on the bench but he could start; he offers such utility value.”
Brisbane Tigers coach Mark Gliddon said he wanted to see his side improve their consistency this season, something the team lacked last year.
Match: Clydesdales v Tigers
Round 1 -
Venue: Clive Berghofer Stadium, Toowoomba
“We don’t want one or two good games... we want five or six good games in a row,” Gliddon said.
“In defence, I want to see a side that is able to defend their line for long periods of time.
“Jonah Glover is a player I am excited by at the moment, he has played Hostplus Cup last season in the last round, but is still playing Colts.
“He has a soccer background, but he’s so league smart already.”
The Tigers face the Western Clydesdales as their opening round match and coach Blake Mara was excited to see what the new blood in his side would bring.
"We have 13 debutants which is super exciting for the club, but makes it really important for our confidence that we start the game well,” Mara said.
“I expect our group to play for each other and stick to the game plan.
“If we do that, I'm confident we can trouble our opposition.
"I think as a coach what will please me the most this weekend will be for our boys to put in a performance that reflects the hard work they've done this off-season.
“Make no mistake, the Clydesdales are going into Round 1 looking for a victory. Each week our group is improving as a team and I expect our Round 1 performance to continue that trend.
"As a team, we are trying to set new standards, particularly around culture. It's really important to understand that there are no shortcuts to success.
“We have a youthful squad this year and I am excited to see a few guys get an opportunity at this level.
“As a coaching staff, we are directing a lot of our focus and attention to the effort areas of the game.
“We have some exceptionally talented players and we know that if we improve our execution and effort areas, then we will certainly improve on our results from last season."
Match: Cutters v Pride
Round 1 -
Venue: BB Print Stadium, Mackay
Pride coach David Westley said his side were much like all of the other teams in the competition and were excited to be hitting the field for Round 1.
“I’m expecting every team to be excited to get out and start playing some competition footy as we have been,” Westley said.
“I would be pleased at the end of Round 1 for our young men to know that they can go all the way to the grand final.
“My expectations are that we put up a resilient performance in every game we play this year.”
Cutters coach Craig Kennedy was also excited for the start of the season.
“We haven’t had the rain disruption, but like everyone else COVID has played it’s part (in our preparations),” Kennedy said.
“We just want our middle to be ready, if you don’t control that middle you are in for a tough day.
“Ethan Sweet is a player that I think people should keep an eye on this season, he’s in our backrow.”
The scheduled match between Tweed Seagulls and Norths Devils has been postponed until the bye weekend in May due to the weather.
Match: Seagulls v Devils
Round 1 -
Venue: Tugun RLFC, Tugun
This year, you can sign up to watch all QRL statewide competitions matches at QPlus.tv. This weekend, enjoy the QPlus launch offer of free access to all Hastings Deering Colts opening Round 1 games.