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Ethan Quai-Ward.

The lure of a good coach can never be underestimated.

The Souths Logan Magpies know this all too well.

Last year, under the tutelage of former NRL star Karmichael Hunt for the first time, the Magpies finished in second place on the Hostplus Cup ladder, moving up from wooden spooners in 2022.

While their finals campaign didn’t go their way – getting knocked out in week two – it was still a redemption story to be proud of and one that saw Hunt be named the 2023 Hostplus Cup coach of the year.

And Hunt’s reputation as a coach has helped Souths Logan recruit strongly for 2024, with old and new faces signing on with the Magpies.

As well as picking up former Brisbane Broncos forward Tevita Pangai Jr, Souths Logan have locked in the services of Burleigh enforcer Pride Petterson-Robati, Mackay playmaker Brandon Finnegan and their former outside back, Ethan Quai-Ward.

For Quai-Ward, he is familiar with Hunt’s ability as a coach.

Ethan Quai-Ward.
Ethan Quai-Ward.

After last year making his NRL debut with the Canterbury Bulldogs, he decided this year he wanted to come home after losing his beloved pop. And Hunt was one of the first people he turned to.

“I was looking to come home,” Quai-Ward said of his return to Souths Logan.

“I had a passing in the family. When that happened, I leaned on that family support. Nothing beats being around the family. In this time in my life, it was best to come home.

“I had a chat with K and told him how I was feeling, everything that was happening in my life at the time.

“It was best for me to refresh, come home, be around my family… my partner’s family is here and in Toowoomba too. It just made sense at the time.

“He’s an outstanding coach. He just gets footy. Every day I go into training and I still get a bit starstruck.

“The 2006 Broncos team was the team that made me start following the Broncos in Wagga Wagga. Karmichael was a big part of that, with the Karmichael step.”

Quai-Ward was signed to the Broncos himself the last time he played for Souths Logan, going back to the Magpies through the affiliate model.

He was picked up by the Bulldogs midway through the 2023 season and made his NRL debut in Round 19 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

It was a moment he will never forget.

“It was unreal,” he said.

“I was an only child, so I was just hanging off my nan, pop, my mum, my aunty to get them to come outside and kick the footy with me.

“They couldn't always so you dream of those moments like playing in the NRL when you’re in the backyard kicking the ball to yourself.

“When I got told I’d make my debut, I broke down and thought about those moments and the journey to get there.

“It was Dogs v Souths and that gets a fair crowd. Accor Stadium is a huge stadium and Souths have a fairly big fan base.

“When I ran out, I knew where my family was sitting and I tried not to look over there but couldn’t not. That was the best moment. And nothing beats scoring a try on debut.”

Upwards from QRL in 2023: Part two

When his pop died, Quai-Ward decided to return to Queensland but has not shut the door on a possible move back in the future for his career.

But for now, he is hopeful of once again securing a fulltime Broncos contract and is appreciating the time he has with his family.

He is also enjoying getting to know the new members of the squad that weren’t part of Souths Logan last time he was there, picking up on a lot of “confidence, belief and drive” around the group.

New teammate, Finnegan, is another who has joined Souths Logan and is not only impressed by the talent around him, but the presence of Hunt.

The 26-year-old is at a point in his career where he wants to take his game to another level and hopes that Hunt is the coach who will be able to help him do that.

“I spoke with K and really liked everything he was talking about with the team and for me,” Finnegan said.

“It just worked… I played 50 games with the Cutters and felt like it was a good opportunity to progress and give myself the best chance to play NRL and take it to the next step.

“Playing under Karmichael and with that group was something I thought would help. Karmichael’s someone I’ve looked up to through my footy career.

"To be able to play under him and learn was something that was pretty attractive for me, especially playing in the halves. He’s done it all.

“He’s just a real calm head and you can learn off him. It’s almost like he’s still a player. He jumps in at training and shows you how to do things and he trains with us sometimes as well. It’s easy to learn from him.”

Brandon Finnegan. Photo: Scott Davis/QRL
Brandon Finnegan. Photo: Scott Davis/QRL

With 51 Cup games under his belt, Finnegan is hopeful that an NRL opportunity is on the cards for him in either 2024 or 2025.

As well as Hunt, he’s learning from fellow half Albert Kelly and former NRL hooker Issac Luke.

“I feel like I’ve kind of established myself as a Cup player and learning off those guys will help take me to the next level,” Finnegan said.

“My goal is to play NRL. I’ve just turned 26 and while I’m older compared to some guys, I’m at the age where I’m playing my best footy, especially as a half.

“It’s about having a big year and giving myself the best opportunity to make the next step this season or next season.

“There’s been a fair few (older players), even the last two years, that have been able to get fulltime contract and get a debut and make it into NRL. It shows the gap isn’t actually that big.

“There’s a lot of other things that go into it but it’s just trying to get that opportunity first. It shows the top level of Cup boys are very close to the NRL level.”

Souths Logan Magpies 2024 gains and losses


Rixson Andrews (BRL), Brandon Finnegan (Mackay Cutters), Sam Lavea (Norths Devils), Presley Leota (Penrith), Tevita Pangai Junior (retirement), Pride Petterson-Robati (Burleigh Bears), Kienan Power-Tempest (Wests Tigers), Ethan Quai-Ward (Canterbury Bulldogs), VJ Semu (Brisbane Broncos), William Samuel (Wynnum Manly Seagulls)


Jack Campagnolo (London Broncos), Caleb Daunt (released), Jake Elmore (retired), Justin Fai (Norths Devils), Alex Fidow (released), Jesse Jennings (Central Queensland Capras), Jezzy Ioane (Carina Tigers), Byron Johnson (Ipswich Jets), Fabien Paletua-Kiri (Canberra), Jack Svendsen (Carina Tigers), Cruise Ten (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), AJ Tuimavave (retired), Connor Williams (Western Clydesdales), Seb Winters-Chang (released)

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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.

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