Rugby league fans with a keen eye for spotting emerging talent can today begin marking their calendars following the release of the 2024 Hostplus Cup draw.
Round 1 of next year’s competition kicks off on the weekend of March 9-10, with 150 regular season matches to be played over six months before the start of the finals series in September.
All 15 clubs will play 20 games across 24 rounds in the fight to qualify for the top eight and ultimately the 2024 grand final at Redcliffe’s Kayo Stadium.
With its unique reach across regional Queensland – sprinkled with the international and interstate flavour of the Papua New Guinea Hunters and Tweed Seagulls – the Hostplus Cup will again showcase many aspiring players, coaches and referees.
The list includes exciting Gold Coast Titans talent Keano Kini, who had a breakout season with the Burleigh Bears on his way to winning the Duncan Hall Medal in an epic Hostplus Cup grand final.
While Kini’s heroics earned him many plaudits, it wasn’t quite enough as the Brisbane Tigers fended off a late Bears surge to clinch their first Cup grand final this year.
Queensland Rugby League competitions manager Dave Maiden said the race to secure positions in next year’s finals series would again be hotly contested.
“We were fortunate to witness some special talent in 2023,” Maiden said.
“The history of this great competition tells us that we’ll all soon be talking about more rising stars who have the ability to entertain and inspire communities across Queensland, New South Wales and PNG.
“A lot of our clubs have bolstered their playing depth, and with a number of new coaches getting their first crack at the Hostplus Cup, it’s shaping up to be another unpredictable and exciting season.”
The Tigers begin their premiership defence with an opening round clash against the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Burleigh’s Round 1 opponent is the Norths Devils, with the Luke Burt-coached team having to wait until Round 14 for a shot at their grand final nemesis.
Other opening round fixtures will see the Redcliffe Dolphins up against Souths Logan Mapgies, PNG Hunters at home to Wynnum Manly Seagulls, Northern Pride taking on Tweed Seagulls, Western Clydesdales in action against Central Queensland Capras and the Ipswich Jets playing Townsville Blackhawks.
The early season spice hits in Round 3 with XXXX Rivalry Round to feature explosive derbies across the south east, central and north of Queensland.
Country Week is locked in for the weekend of July 27-28, with all matches to be played in remote and regional Queensland as part of an ongoing QRL initiative that generates goodwill and significant funds for community clubs and leagues.
The weekend of April 20-21 is Licensed Clubs Round in both Queensland and New South Wales, with the feature round to acknowledge Leagues Club Australia’s ongoing support of rugby league and the wider community.
Fans can catch every game of the 2024 Hostplus Cup live and on-demand on QPlus.tv, the streaming home of Queensland Rugby League.
See the full draw here.