You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Players Jasmine Peters and Emma Manzelmann with coach, Marco Peters. Photo: Mackay Cutters/QRL

The Mackay Cutters have known for a long time the importance of having a women’s team in a “rugby league heartland”.

This is why their inclusion in the 2023 BMD Premiership is so significant not just for the club but the Mackay region.

The Cutters will officially join the competition next year, alongside fellow newcomers Norths Devils, taking on the former North Queensland Gold Stars concept.

This means players based in Townsville, Cairns and Mackay will be able to train at their home bases throughout the week, before coming together for game day. The only difference now is they will play under the Cutters name and brand, aligned with the proud club.

With training underway and their 2023 squad coming together strongly, Mackay CEO Mitch Cook said this was something the Cutters had been working towards since before the Gold Stars were introduced in 2020.

As they’ve watched the Gold Stars face a number of highs and lows – including a cancelled 2020 season for COVID and a stunning premiership victory in 2022 – the Cutters have been doing all they can to strengthen their case for inclusion when the time came.

Players Jasmine Peters and Emma Manzelmann with coach, Marco Peters. Photo: Mackay Cutters/QRL
Players Jasmine Peters and Emma Manzelmann with coach, Marco Peters. Photo: Mackay Cutters/QRL

“The work that’s gone in behind the scenes, especially for the last two seasons, to make sure we were fully ready to take that on, it’s been huge,” Cook said.

“This includes setting up academies underneath, including a 17s academy, to help feed through to our 19s and the women’s team.

“We’ve had good numbers and to see the strength of performance and the local talent coming through the Gold Stars, it’s been pleasing.

“The work of coaches and volunteers and everything that gets built in around the team, the support for that and the connection to local league, it’s all been going on behind the scenes.”

Cook said it was always a no brainer for the Cutters to ensure they are part of the women’s game as it continues to go from strength to strength.

A number of big name rugby league players have come from the region, including current Queensland Maroons stars Dane Gagai and Reuben Cotter, while skipper Daly Cherry-Evans also spent most of his teenage years in Mackay.

And the same trend is starting to emerge with the women.

Former Australian Jillaroos Renae Kunst and Brittany Breayley-Nati both hail from Mackay, as does 21-year-old rising star, Emma Manzelmann, who won the 2022 NRLW premiership with the Newcastle Knights.

Cook said it was crucial for the Cutters to play their part in continuing to develop these players.

Player of the match - Emma Manzelmann

“Mackay and the district are a rugby league heartland, not just in Queensland but in Australia,” he said.

“The number of Origin and NRL players out of this region, that’s being replicated in women’s footy as well.

“We definitely feel here that we’re a town, region and club that supports the game first and foremost, and that doesn’t matter if it’s the male or female game.

“It’s the game of rugby league and it should be available for everyone to play and there should be a pathway for not only male, but female players as well.”

Cook said ideally they would love to one day be a standalone club in the BMD Premiership competition and to see the game expand so that the Townsville Blackhawks and Northern Pride also have their own women’s teams.

Top five: BMD Premiership grand final

But for now, the Cutters are proud to represent the entire North Queensland region and to continue on the work that was put into the Gold Stars model.

With the Gold Stars the reigning premiers, Cook is hopeful Mackay are in for a successful season in their foundation year.

“I’d love to see them hold up the premiership trophy at the end of the year, for sure,” he said.

“They’d be going back-to-back but under our name and banner.

“There’s no doubt the team is talented enough to do it and we’ll make sure they have everything they need off the field to achieve that success.

“The first goal will definitely be making sure they get off to a good start and we’ll take it from there.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Platinum Partners

View All Partners