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The BRL Bundaberg Broadcasters A grade Premiership will kick off for the new season with a triple-header at Salter Oval on Saturday.

Past Brothers will launch their title defence at 2.30pm against 2022 champions Hervey Bay Seagulls, who will be striving to bounce back from a season in hell.

Easts Magpies and Wallaroos will square off at 4.15pm, and perennial favourites Waves Tigers will take on beaten grand finalists Wests Panthers at 6pm.

Brothers, 'Roos, Waves and Wests have all retained their long-serving coaches in Andrew Hamilton, Scott Robertson, Queensland FOG #163 Antonio Kaufusi and Corey Tanner respectively.

Elsewhere, Fai Sami has returned to the Seagulls helm, and former Derek McVey, who played 52 games for Gold Coast and Balmain from 1990-95 and 30 for St Helens in the English Super League and as a forward from 1996-97 - collecting three trophies for The Saints - will lead Easts Magpies.

McVey more recently coached Southwest Florida Copperheads in the USARL from 2019 to 2023.

Seagulls lost all their 15 games last year, scoring just 112 points while conceding a mammoth 962, but Sami took the reins two days after their last match, and began the recovery process, and with a rebuilt team, they are expected to return as a major force.

Brothers are the biggest unknown, with their mercurial fullback and player of the grand final Matt Craven moving to Sunshine Coast, and also losing their star halves Mitch Taylor (not playing) and Bryden Blair to Isis Devils in the Northern Districts Rugby League, along with stalwart front rower and five-time premiership star Kevin Sherriff to retirement.

Hamilton said the signing of 34-year-old former Queensland Rangers captain and powerhouse forward Jason Wardrop from the Sunshine Coast would help fill Sherriff’s big shoes.

“Also young Carter Vincent, from Gladstone, an Australian Under 18 touch representative whose father Matthew formerly played for the club, is an exciting prospect, and he will play in the halves,” Hamilton said.

Many experts believe that the Tigers are the team to beat after being beaten preliminary finalists for the past two years and they have again recruited strongly, including speed machine winger Mitchell Clayton, who was a two-try hero for Brothers in both their 2021 preliminary and grand final triumphs, and the returns of Fijian flyer Ponipate “Junior” Wailevu and gun forward Kiya Schabel after five years with Central Queensland Capras in Hostplus Cup.

They have also again pilfered a string of Wests young guns, including Noah Law, who has returned to Bundaberg after doing the pre-season with Redcliffe Dolphins, adding more spice to their always high-spirited Battle of the Big Cats showdown with the Panthers.

Here are all clubs’ new players signings and losses, their expectations, and whom they believe as the team to beat.

Easts Magpies

Coach: Derek McVey

Captain: Tom Cox (pictured)

Signings: Jayden Alberts (Brothers), Zak Bainbridge (Brothers), Liam Dunn (Newcastle), Ray Scarsborough (Redlands)

Losses: Will Walthall, Scott Walthall, Ben Hudson

How will your team improve on 2023?

Focusing on team structure.

What fans can expect from your game style?

Ball movement. Focusing on attention to detail and player focus.

Who is team to beat and why?


Hervey Bay Seagulls

Coach: Fai Sami

Captains: David Woodbridge (pictured) and Michael O’Shea

Signings: George Prior (Mackay region), Casey Russell (Caloundra Sharks), Dylan Crockford (Carina Tigers), Jake Doyle (under 18s), Toby Jackson (under 18s)

Losses: Jake Scanlan, Mick Robinson, Alex Carslake, Mani Bowers (injury), Jaiden Simonson

How will your team improve on 2023?

2023 was a tough season to be a Seagull. There has been some rough years in the past but last year was possibly one of the toughest. A new coach at helm certainly has changed our outlook on things and we are looking forward to seeing what Fai brings to our top side. The club is looking stronger and stronger away from the field which certainly helps steady the ship. Our fitness level has improved through a long hard preseason with plenty of reps being done since late October. Our will to stay in the fight won us a lot of respect last year but this season we are looking to carry that same will and determination and turn it into some success.

What can the fans expect from your game style?

Our fans can expect a well-disciplined and fit side. With some of our most exciting players from last year going around again we look forward to seeing how they gel and build new combinations with our new signings to create some exciting footy. We are looking to be fighting for a finals spot come the end of the season. Our fans can expect a much-improved side from last season with plenty more joy to come.

Who is the team to beat and why?

It would be hard to go past Bundaberg Brothers as the team to beat, they always tend to recruit well and being the defending premiers it will be likely that they will yet again be a tough side. We travel up there in Round 1 and are expecting a fast, physical game as it usually is against them.

Past Brothers

Coach: Andrew Hamilton

Captain: Tyrell Priestley (pictured)

Signings: Jason Wardrop (former XXXX Queensland Rangers representative and Sunshine Coast Falcons), Carter Vincent (Gladstone), Lachlan Andrews (Gladstone), Blake Powter (under 18s), Mitchell Sly (under 18s)

Losses: Matt Craven (Noosa Pirates), Mitch Taylor, Bryden Blair (Isis Devils), Kevin Sherriff (retired)

How will your team improve in 2024?

It will be a different looking team with new halves and we will rely on a team game rather than individual brilliance. We will be a young, developing team with a few older heads still there.

What can fans expect from your game style?

We will definitely play an attacking style of footy, but it might take a few weeks to get combinations. We have only played one trial and we played fairly good. We’ve still got the core from last year andwe're looking forward to where we can get to by the end of the year.

Who is the team to beat and why?

By the talk around town, it looks like Waves will be the No.1 contender, and Easts, but a lot will depend on injuries.


Coach: Scott Robertson

Captains: Jesse Robertson (pictured) and Maurice "Bobby" Blair

Signings/retains: Eli Bailey-Ward (Caloundra Sharks), Jackson Gouge, Jordan Kemble, Shaun Collins

Losses: None 

How will your team improve in 2024?

One year older and wiser, and we need to travel stronger and win a lot more games in Bundaberg.

What can fans expect from your game style?

We are going to change quite a lot and really try and use the footy and increase ball movement, and really play reaction footy. We have worked hard on it, but it takes a bit time to come together, 70/30 footy. We are really happy as a club to welcome back everyone. We are a young side. We will need time together but we can be very competitive with what we’ve got.

Who is the team to beat and why?

We haven’t looked at anyone, but the way things are rocking and rolling, probably Across the Waves Tigers. They mightn’t be full of stars, but they’ve got depth. Bundy Brothers won it last year, but talking to them, they are struggling for numbers. But it’s the old cliché, we want to improve week to week, and try to be in the hot seat at the end of the year, and ready to rock and roll.

Waves Tigers

Coach: Antonio Kaufusi

Leaders: Reece Maughan (captain), Sam Tobin, Brendan Grills

Former Queensland State of Origin prop and 2024 Waves Tigers coach Antonio Kaufusi, with A grade captain Reece Maughan.
Former Queensland State of Origin prop and 2024 Waves Tigers coach Antonio Kaufusi, with A grade captain Reece Maughan.

Signings: Martin Powell (formerly Brothers), Mitchell Clayton (Brothers), Ponipate “Junior” Wailevu (Fiji), Harry Kuorikoski (formerly Wests), Alusa Nasio (Tigers 2018 premiership winner), Kiya Schabel (Central Queensland Capras), Noah Law (Wests)

Losses: Josh Hill (Ipswich Jets), Lachlan Dullaway

How will your team improve in 2024?

We have just got to ice those big moments. In the last few years, we’ve been in really good positions with two bites of the finals cherry, but we were beaten on the buzzer in both games both years, and winning those moments has to start this week.

What can fans expect from your game style?

I’m a big believer in players knowing exactly what role the coach expects them to do. We will be a real disciplined team. We’ve worked pretty hard on that and playing a bit of footy and moving the footy. We can attack from anywhere.

Who is the team to beat and why?

The two grand finalists Wests and Brothers, but no disrespect to other teams. The focus is on us and what we can control, and we’ll get a good gauge after the first round.

Wests Panthers

Coach: Corey Tanner

Captain: Dan Tanner (pictured) and Tyson Douglas

Signings: Marcus Tanner (Wests Tigers/Central Queensland Capras), Zac Egan, Ryan Sharpe.

Losses: Noah Law, Lochy Modrow, Ryan Bugeja, Zeke Bullard (all Waves Tigers), Laish Salam, Shaun Ezzy (injury).

How will the improve this season?

Just worry about ourselves and how we can be better as a team.

What can fans expect from your game style?

Our style will be the same as usual - aggressive and compete on every play of every minute.

Who is the team to beat and why?

Across the Waves Tigers, as they have taken our best young players over the past few seasons, so they should be young and full of enthusiasm.

Acknowledgement of Country

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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