Footy fever is gripping Queensland as more and more junior and senior players sign on to play community rugby league across the state.
At the start of this month, Queensland Rugby League player registrations were up 14 per cent, equating to about 8000 more registered participants compared to the corresponding period in 2022.
Representatives from the QRL and National Rugby League were in Redcliffe today to celebrate the strong start to the club rugby league season.
While QRL general manager of community and competitions Glenn Ottaway and NRL executive general manager of elite football Graham Annesley provided a participation update to the media, more than 50 excited junior players took part in a skills session on the Kayo Stadium field.
They were joined by Harvey Norman Queensland Maroons head coach Tahnee Norris and squad members Evania Pelite and Shannon Mato, as well as Dolphins NRL star Sean O’Sullivan.
Norris, Pelite and Mato spoke passionately about the growth of the female game and connection between community rugby league and the elite level.
The surge in Queensland registration numbers coincides with a strong start to QRL statewide competitions, the excitement generated by the emergence of The Dolphins in the NRL; and the blistering early form of the Brisbane Broncos.
Add in many other eye-catching performances from Queensland-eligible players, and there’s ample reasons to be optimistic about the imminent challenge awaiting Billy Slater’s Queensland Maroons team.
Future Maroons are currently enjoying their footy on rugby league fields all around the state, with 60,000 club participants having already signed on to play Queensland’s favourite sport.
Ottaway praised the efforts of staff and volunteers.
“The surge in early participation numbers is a reflection on the way the game is structured and delivered across Queensland,” Ottaway said.
“There is also greater confidence in the registration platform in that we have opened registrations on December 1 for the past three years, and there has been a consistent and aligned marketing approach between the QRL and NRL.
“What we have seen is a much higher peak in registrations through January than we’ve experienced before.
“Club volunteers need to be praised for having their products set up in the national database to coincide with the national opening of registrations. Rugby league is also one of the more affordable community sports.”
Given the promising early data, Ottaway expects this year’s final numbers to eclipse the 2022 figure of 64,566.
“Every age demographic is above where it was at the same time last year, including seniors (19 years and above),” Ottaway said.
Male participation (year to date) is up 13 per cent up, while female registrations continue to grow.
O’Sullivan said the opportunity to play junior rugby league helped shape him into the person he is today.
“I often think back to how much fun I had playing junior rugby league and even more importantly, it teaches kids real life skills that go way beyond the field to help them thrive in life,” O’Sullivan said.