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The Rugby League Gold Coast A grade competition is no stranger to big names in the playing and coaching ranks and their spread across the clubs promises the closest season in years.

Half the teams in the six-team competition have former representative players coaching them including Greg Bird (Southport), Matt Geyer (Currumbin) and Jeremy Smith (Runaway Bay co-coach), while the playing ranks include former NRL stars Joel Thompson (Currumbin), Nathan Peats and Kane Elgey (Tugun) and a host of former Hostplus Cup talents.

While premiers Southport are seen as the favourites in the title race, coaches across the board are expecting a new player points system to bring them close to the chasing pack, eager to please fans with exciting footy each week in 2024.

Here's how the clubs are shaping up.

Burleigh Bears

Coach: Michael Robertson

Captain: TBA

Signings: Jayden Weir (Carina), Jack Frasca (Southport), Joe Duffy (Parkes), Iverson Mapu Satiu (Manly)

Player losses: Daniel Shannon (Southport), Jayden Sharp (Townsville), Allan Lockwood (Macleay Valley), Jordan Scott (Southport), Dante Lusio (Collegians Wollongong)

Burleigh Bears half George House
Burleigh Bears half George House

How will your team improve in 2024?

The experience gained from 2023 for some of the younger players will have benefited the squad moving in to the 2024 season. Expect the side to boast some youthful enthusiasm.

What can fans expect from your game style?

Can expect to see a youthful, enterprising style of football from the squad this year.

Who is the team to beat and why?

Tugun. They have a good core group of players that have played Hostplus Cup and Rugby League Gold Coast A grade over the years. With that experience plus the addition of former NRL players Nathan Peats and Kane Elgey, they will be a formidable opponent in 2024.

Helensvale Hornets

Coach: Paul Bergman

Captain: Liam Clark (pictured)

Signings/retains: We have retained the main core group of our players that have been here long term building our A grade and have picked up a mix of experience with ex-NRL Bulldogs and Manly player Lloyd Perrett, Jesse Malcom who played a heap of Cup and A grade, past players like Coen Rankmore, a few returning juniors from Colts like James Pere and a couple of new pick ups in Isaiah Perrett, Isaac Perritt, as well a couple of smokeys.

Player losses: Jared Johnson (South Sydney Rabbitohs pathways), Campbell Pirihi, Mitch Stokes (coaching, Runaway Bay), Brent Barnes (Central Coast), Brogan Melrose (Runaway Bay).  

How will your team improve in 2024?

We will be still playing footy come finals time.

What can fans expect from your game style?

A tough, grinding team that will compete hard in every game.

Who is the team to beat and why?

To be honest not sure this year as looking at all the sides it looks like it will be a fair contest across the park and who ever aims up on the day will be the winner.

Currumbin Eagles

Coach: Matt Geyer

Captain: Jarrod Gill

Signings/retains: Joel Thompson, Michael Burgess, Kalin Ropata, Jarrod Gill, Ken Allison

Player losses: Tyler Creecy (retired), Noah Croudace (travel), Jacob Smith (moved interstate), Lachlan Smith (retired), Bayley Desmond (injured).

How will your team improve in 2024?

It is no secret that Currumbin Eagles depend heavily upon junior development as we don’t have the finances of the other clubs, so to see those younger players becoming 40-50 game A Graders will have a huge impact on our squad. We’ve lost a lot of our long serving young men to injury, travel or other opportunities, so we hope the depth of the squad isn’t impacted too harshly from that. Joel Thompson headlines our signings and he has already shown that he is still as competitive as he ever was, but more importantly, he has shown a great temperament and willingness to educate and work with his younger team mates to make them better players and people.

What can fans expect from your game style?

Sometimes I don’t know the answer to this question five minutes before kickoff. If we are in the groove, I hope we can display a game that looks like the players are enjoying themselves. I ask them to work hard for each other and back their own skills.

Who is the team to beat and why?

With the Colts competition ending and the introduction of the points system, I believe this will be one of the more open competitions we’ve seen for a while. Each team seems to have added well to their roster and I’ve heard of a few ex-NRL players signing up for a variety of teams. As for the favourite, it has to be the Southport Tigers. They are the defending premiers and their playing roster seems as strong as ever. They’ll be well coached and have the runs on the board.

Tugun Seahawks

Coach: Will Johnstone (pictured)

Captain: Will Johnstone

Signings/retains: Kane Elgey, Nathan Peats, Reico Ratana, Tim Cassidy, Tim Wolens, Kyle Williams, Josh Harvey.

Player losses: Blake Midson, Fetuli Talanoa, Samui Latu, Jack Glossop, Jack Rogers

How will your team improve in 2024?

The addition of some experienced players in Kane Elgey and Nathan Peats who have played at the highest level will bring a lot to our attack in 2024. Both players have been great for the young guys that we have in our squad and will give us a lot of threat when we have the ball in our hands. Training intensity and competition for positions has gone up another notch in preparation for this season and the addition of experienced trainer Billy Johnstone as well as the sponsorship of Palm Beach Physio and Sports Rehab has meant players are in peak condition for the season ahead.

What can fans expect from your game style?

A free-flowing fast attacking style of footy.

Who is the team to beat and why?

Southport. They are shooting for three premierships in a row and are the team to beat again.

Runaway Bay Seagulls

Coach: Paul Kuhnemann and Jeremy Smith

Captain: Cody McLaughlin and Kurtis Rowe

Signings/retains: Kurtis Rowe, Doryann Hape Apiata, Cody McLaughlin, Queille Murray, Blake Campbell

How will your team improve in 2024?

We have totally new group of players and probably about five from the A grade set-up who have returned. The old coach left last year and we've had a new crop of old juniors who used to be in major systems come back through. With ex-Kiwi international Jeremy Smith, he's obviously brought his talents to the fore which is creating a culture for a new crop of players and he's been coaching the under 20s for the last three years and we won a grand final last year and following on from there we've kept a core group of those guys which has then flowed into the A grade system and pathways along the line.

What can fans expect from your game style?

All-out attack. We'll be playing with a lot of width and want to attack with our defence as well.

Who is the team to beat and why?

Southport. They've won the last two years. This year might be a bit different with the points system, but at the end of the day they've lost a few players but picked up a few players out of Colts as well, so they've recouped whatever they've lost in regards to younger, talented players. They will be more than formidable and the ones to beat, definitely.

Southport Tigers

Coach: Greg Bird

Captain: Eni Folau

Signings/retains: Jordan Scott, Blake Scott, Jaline Graham, Piki Rogers, Jordan Kake, Brodie Malcolm, Dallas Wells, Carne Doyle

Player losses: Michael Oldfield, Eddy Pettybourne, Malachi Morgan, Cheyse Blair, Sione Katoa

How will your team improve in 2024?

Keenness and the experienced players guiding the young generation. I think we have as strong a squad as last year just from willingness to be here.

What can fans expect from your game style?

'Birdy-style' footy. The games will be tighter and I think the competition will be fairer with the points system, but I expect us to still play good, consistent, hard footy.

Who is the team to beat and why?

Currumbin. A lot of their juniors have already had a taste of A grade. They're a very good club at the moment and very close and I think they'll be quite challenging.

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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