Hostplus Cup and BMD Premiership teams will receive a boost ahead of 2024, with the return of semi-pro days this pre-season.
An annual event prior to the global COVID-19 pandemic hitting in 2020, the semi-pro days – run by the Queensland Rugby League in conjunction with the NRL and RLPA - help players get their mandatory education in an inclusive and interactive way.
The first of three semi-pro days ahead of season 2024 will kick off this weekend, when all southern teams – from Western Clydesdales and Sunshine Coast Falcons down to Tweed Seagulls – converge in Brisbane on Sunday, November 26.
The Central Queensland Capras and Mackay Cutters’ Cup and BMD Premiership squads will then have their semi-pro day on Saturday, December 9, in Mackay followed by the Townsville Blackhawks and Northern Pride in Townsville on Sunday, December 10.
QRL’s senior club education and wellbeing manager Trish Walding said the semi-pro day was a way of marking the start of the new season from an off-field perspective, setting a standard for players across the two competitions.
“This is our first year back and it’s an opportunity for all of our Cup and BMD Premiership players to come together,” Walding said.
“They get their mandatory education ticked off but also have a social component.
“It’s a welcome to the season. We want to set a standard that the game cares about them and looks after them, particularly the wellbeing people at their clubs.
“We want them to see that everyone is in the same position and everyone is coming together in an environment that would usually be so competitive. This is a feel-good event about wellbeing and everyone being together.”
There will be five main sessions at each semi-pro day, including a cultural connection piece from former player Dean Widders and a talk on self-care and resilience from disability advocate, John Coutis, while QRL CEO Ben Ikin will also be in attendance.
The mandatory education topics will be covered in-depth in an afternoon of theatre sports, which Walding said had proved to be one of the most popular sessions in years past.
“It’s hard-hitting topics done in a fun and interactive way and the messages stick with them as opposed to a lectured environment,” Walding said.