Kurtis Rowe owes so much to the Gold Coast through footy, friends and family and when he pulls on the Vikings jersey this weekend, he hopes to repay all of those who have made a difference.
The Burleigh Bears legend retired from Hostplus Cup last year but leapt at the chance to join the campaign to defend the XXXX Chairman’s Challenge and represent his “home away from home” with pride.
Rowe, who is in Runaway Bay Seagulls colours this year, said it was special to have the opportunity to represent the people who have helped him succeed having moved to the Gold Coast as a teen.
“I moved to the Gold Coast when I was 14. I did my high school at Keebra Park, all my mates and all my family are here now, so the Goldie has been good to me and I’m proud to say I’m from here and want to do something special for the Coast,” Rowe said.
“I represented the Vikings in under 18s so was just keen to do it again. I like representing the Gold Coast and hopefully we can take it out again.”
Rowe said it was “pretty cool” to watch the Vikings take out the title in the dying minutes in 2022 and hoped to bring composure to a team under the pressure of expectation, something he was no stranger to as the danger man every time Burleigh took the field.
“I’ve pretty much had that target on me my whole career, it’s nothing new. But I’m keen for the challenge,” Rowe said.
“I’m kind of used to it. I’ve had a bit of NRL experience and Cup experience so right now I’m just trying to mentor some other boys coming through and I don’t try to overthink my game anymore, I just go out there and back my ability. I’m pretty confident at the moment and how I can play.
“You can’t take these sort of competitions lightly. There’s going to be quality players across all the teams and I just know we need to be on our game if we want to give this competition a nudge.”
Brisbane’s two sides will be hot on their heels, with the Red side featuring a familiar adversary in Richard Pandia.
The former Ipswich Jets try-scoring machine, who has brought his experience to West Brisbane Panthers in the BRL this season, will return to his old stomping ground North Ipswich Reserve hoping he can rally the troops to glory.
Pandia has unfinished business after being “in and out of hospital” in the lead-up to the 2022 carnival and now fully fit hopes to put his best foot forward.
“It’s pretty good to get a bit recognition from playing BRL. I’m slowly getting back into footy again and I’ve been enjoying my footy lately. It’s been great,” Pandia said.
“I think we have a pretty good team. We had a training session (on Monday) and we trained pretty well. The team looks pretty good, so hopefully we have a good few games this weekend.
“It will feel like I’m home playing back at Ipswich. I’ll take every game as they come so I’m not really thinking about it too much, but I’m looking forward to seeing some old friends at Ipswich and catching up on old times.
“We’ll have to play smart footy and complete our sets and hopefully everything comes good from there. We’ve just got to keep composure, keep it simple, don’t try to do any fancy stuff, just complete our sets and when we get the right to play the ball quick, do what we can.”
Pandia said with every match being streamed live on Qplus.tv, every player on show would have a good chance to impress for higher honours.
“There will be a lot of people watching so it will be great for them to expose their talent and get picked up by clubs,” Pandia said.
Main image: Kurtis Rowe playing for Burleigh Bears during the 2021 preliminary final at Suncorp Stadium