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Senior teams across Wide Bay and the South Burnett are getting set for their seasons to begin.

The four team Wide Bay Open Women's competition kicks off this weekend with games in Cherbourg and Maryborough, while the five-team South Burnett Rugby League Men's A grade competition starts April 27.

Wondai Wolves are the defending women's premiers as will be as formidable as ever retaining their 2023 best forward Nickie Geysing and best and fairest Elle Mollenhauer - the 2024 co-captains - and 2023 best club woman Sarah Hebbel-Clarke.

Wolves coach Brittany Holding said her side was planning a shake-up to a more entertaining style of football in 2024.

"We are now in our third season with the same core group, and we have worked hard on developing our attacking style to be something new and unexpected," she said.

"We usually win games with our tough defence, and just the attack happens on its own, but this year, we are ready to come out all guns blazing."

While more success would be idea, it's not the focus of their season.

"We are most excited to just create an even closer bond amongst our team. We all love playing, but for us, we enjoy more the camaraderie, friendships, and social aspects of the game." 

Wondai, who plays away to Fraser Coast in Round 1, has one eye on Bundaberg as a team to beat this year.

The Bears travel to Cherbourg for their season opener and coach Andrew McCormack said he was focused on building the team to accommodate the players coming through Wide Bay Bulls junior representative programs.

Bundaberg Open Women's players in the preseason.
Bundaberg Open Women's players in the preseason.

A number of players are even making the four-hour round trip from Mundubbera to be part of the side, with a focus on fitness and skills drills in the preseason.

McCormack said he wanted to keep the game plan simple and allow the players such as Zoe Smart, Malitha Guiney, Karly Tanner, Lucy Hooper and Chantel Winkler to make the most of their natural talent.

“It’s up to the girls how much effort they want to put in and where they all end up. Obviously everyone loves winning, but it’s about them enjoying themselves and getting through the games without injury," he said.

“By the end of the year if they’re happy they’ve improved in their fitness and their skills are better and they want to play again next year, that’s what I’m looking for."

The Cherbourg women's side is in their second season and club president George Fisher hopes they can continue to develop and pave the path for the club's under 17 girls.

The men's A grade side is brimming with confidence and have the community buzzing after some success in preseason competitions.

Fisher said there was "a good energy about the place", with players well set up to be accountable to their own high standards and community expectations.

“The way we’ve set the year and the year we’ve already had has set a foundation or platform to work from and they expect that from each other the A grade and they’ve set a high standard for themselves and believe in what we’re setting up," he said.

“Once the players start keeping each other accountable, it goes beyond other peoples’ expectations."

The teams will also be kitted out in new jerseys arriving soon, described as "a blend of old and new", which has translated into the on-field focus for the season, and a vibe of "positivity and inclusiveness", Fisher said.

“We’ve brought in a lot of new techniques, breaking the game down and the way we structure our sessions, keeping it simple and doing the hard work and having a defence-based approach to it," he said.

Fisher expected a good challenge across the board from Kingaroy, Murgon, Nanango and Wondai.

Wondai Wolves men's A grade coach Scott Holding said he expected Cherbourg to be contending this year, but was also hopeful his side could improve thanks to retaining a core base of players and gaining a number of talented young players.

Mitchell Bleys, Josh Brown and captain Cory Ward are all back on deck, while Harry Perrett (Esk), Daniel Alberts (Chinchilla), Josh Scott (Yeppoon) and Braxton Parry will add a new flavour.

"We have some great new young players joining us, so we are looking forward to seeing them perform and debut for the Wolves and fulfilling their promise," Holding said. 

"We play a simple style of football, simple game plans with an emphasis on ball control."

Kingaroy Red Ants will host Round 1 fixtures on April 27, with the hosts taking on Wondai Wolves, and Cherbourg Hornets up against Nanango Stags.

Murgon Mustangs will have to wait until the following weekend in Nanango to start their season against Wondai.

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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