I want to start this wrap with a heartfelt 'thank you'.
The end of our 2022 club season is here and what a successful year it has been in North Queensland.
We’ve never had more participants playing the game, even prior to COVID-19, and that’s an absolute credit to the leagues, clubs, referees, committees, coaches, volunteers, Queensland Rugby League staff and NRL staff who are out there supporting community rugby league in 2022.
So, thank you all for making this year what it was.
There were many highlights and I will definitely get to those.
However, while the club season is done, rugby league is definitely not over up here in North Queensland as we move through our carnival circuit.
Two weeks ago we held our first ever RISE carnival in Townsville, which was a huge success. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive and the program overall went really well.
We engaged our highest number to date with over 600 participants across our four programs in the North.
That’s a massive credit to the calibre of the coaching staff we had facilitating these programs. They’ve gone above and beyond and we’re so lucky to have such quality coaches up here in regional Queensland.
This also culminated in the QRL North officiating camp in which 20 young officials came together to update their skills and get the education and learning they need, while also ensuring an enjoyable experience for those involved as well.
It was led by local NRL game development officer Denise Weier and we are so grateful to the match official coaches who also attended the camp.
The QRL officiating space will continue to grow and develop through experiences like this and, eventually, through the establishment of a one governance model, which will aid in greater efficiencies and processes, allowing our great referees to do what they do best – to officiate and coach our next generation coming through.
From this, over the coming weeks, we will also move into our Indigenous carnival circuit, including Gordonvale, Mackay, and the Dan Ropeyarn Cup.
These are hugely important for our region up here and it gives our people in the remote and regional areas an opportunity to play the game we all love.
For some people in these remote areas, it’s only one or two times a year they get to play our game, so it’s vitally important that we continue to support and nurture these carnivals.
They’re always a highlight of my rugby league calendar in the North – and there have already been so many moments to celebrate this season.
It’s hard to narrow down to one “top highlight” of the year, however, I‘ll kick it off with Townsville winning the XXXX League Championship.
The 2022 XXXX League Championship grand final highlights
It was so inspiring to see a Northern team take on – and beat – their counterparts in the Central and South East regions, and they were absolutely the pride of the North.
Elsewhere this year, we saw the resurrection of some of our remote areas competitions post-COVID-19, which was a huge coup.
The Hostplus Cup 'Activate! Queensland' Country Week was another huge success, especially when the Northern Pride and Souths Logan Magpies played on Thursday Island. These players, our staff and NRL staff got to go to the outer islands throughout the week as well.
It’s not often we get an opportunity to visit these areas, so to see so many people engage in rugby league and with the community is wonderful.
And finally, when talking highlights, it would be remiss not to mention All Abilities.
Townsville and Mackay lead the way in this area and we also had some of our regions come in and be involved this season. Across the multiple events and moments, seeing All Abilities up and running is one of my favourite things about rugby league.
It was a huge effort by our staff up in the North, along with the NRL game development team, to give these people an experience of a lifetime.
It’s another space we’ll look to continue to build on in 2023.
And that is where we start to turn our attention to now.
There is no rest in our game.
We will spend the next few weeks reviewing programs, competitions and events that happened in 2022, reflect on what’s being done and look at what we can do to be better and to hit the ground running in 2023.
We will continue to build that momentum in ensuring rugby league remains the greatest game up in the North.
Thank you so much to everyone and see you in 2023.