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XXXX Foley Shield: 'No excuses' for Cairns in title defence

A motivated Cairns is quietly confident their men can keep the XXXX Foley Shield in their possession, building on the 2023 success at home.

The side boasting the best talents of the FNQRL A grade competition, including a number of former Hostplus Cup players, will make the trek to Mackay on Saturday and be straight into the action that evening.

Not only will a formidable opposition be in their way, but what's expected to be a bumper crowd as the hosts welcome many of greats of the past celebrating 20th, 30th and 40th anniversaries of Mackay Foley Shield wins.

Home town advantage was no doubt a contributor to Cairns' success last year, but 2024 player-coach Jordan Biondi-Odo said that was out the window with a new challenge ahead.

Jordan Biondi-Odo in action for Cairns Brothers. Photo: Supplied
Jordan Biondi-Odo in action for Cairns Brothers. Photo: Supplied

The Cairns Brothers captain-coach, who played 86 matches for the Northern Pride, said it was exciting to be back in the pursuit for the XXXX Foley Shield after not being involved since 2021.

"The boys are looking pretty good... and hopefully it's good enough to go back-to-back," he said.


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"It's been a good couple of weeks so far, the boys are really getting along, so hopefully a bit of that mateship shown at training will translate on to the footy field.

A number of players in the squad - set to feature players such as the destructive Joey Ratuvakacereivalu and versatile Falcon Ataera (pictured above) - have connections to the spirit of the Foley Shield that will be driving them, including playmaker Biondi-Odo.

2023 XXXX Foley Shield. Photo: Dom Chaplin/QRL
2023 XXXX Foley Shield. Photo: Dom Chaplin/QRL

"My grandad (Alex Biondi) coached the Mount Isa Foley Shield side back in the day and it's pretty cool I can go full circle and coach it and play in it again," Biondi-Odo said.

"The stories I hear is he was well respected within Mount Isa and the Foley Shield, so just to get the chance to take it full circle is something pretty cool.

"There will probably be a good little moment there, but it's not about me, it's about the team and we'll be switched on to go out there and defend the title."

An aspect rivals struggled to contain in 2023 was the physical Cairns pack and much the same is promised going into this campaign.

Biondi-Odo said he was expecting the big, experienced pack to lead by example "and get us on the front foot" to allow the speedy backs to do their thing and take down favourites Mackay on night one on Saturday, despite having to also overcome the challenge of travelling that day.


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"I don't know if we necessarily have an edge (over the opposition). I think Mackay are definitely the favourites, but we'll be focused on ourselves and if we don't beat ourselves and play good footy and you beat us, we'll live with that, but we're definitely not going to beat ourselves, that's for sure," he said.

"The biggest thing for us is no excuses. Mackay had to travel last year... everybody's in the same boat, so we're more in the mentality that it is what it is and no excuses.

Cairns with the XXXX Foley Shield after the 2023 win at Barlow Park. Photo: Dom Chaplin/QRL
Cairns with the XXXX Foley Shield after the 2023 win at Barlow Park. Photo: Dom Chaplin/QRL

"We're well aware that we're representing the Cairns competition, Far North Queensland footy, so we definitely want to put our best foot forward."

And if the teams performs to its potential, more opportunities could be coming for individuals in terms of Hostplus Cup contracts, or a spot in the Queensland Country team to play in the XXXX Queensland City v Country in September.

"It's definitely an opportunity. We've got lads in our squad that are not in Hostplus Cup systems, so it is an awesome opportunity and I hope we play well as a team and these players get picked up."

Subscribe to to watch every game of the 2024 XXXX Foley Shield. A Round Pass costs $4.99 and provide access for seven days.

XXXX Foley Shield 2024

When to watch

Saturday, May 4

5pm: Women - Mackay v Cairns

6.30pm: Men - Mackay v Cairns

Sunday, May 5

11.30am: Women - Cairns v Townsville

1pm: Men - Cairns v Townsville

Monday, May 6

12.30pm: Women - Mackay v Townsville

2pm: Men - Mackay v Townsville

*Squads to be revealed on on Thursday

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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