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As the Queensland Maroons contest another epic men’s and women’s State of Origin series, one of the game’s great country warriors is shining the light on the importance of rugby league in the bush.

Former Maroons forward Shane Webcke (FOG#105), who hails from the town of Leyburn in the Southern Downs Region and grew up playing the game at Allora Showgrounds, is teaming up with the QRL to showcase the inspirational backstory of rugby league in country areas.

Webcke’s words bring to life a special video piece titled: Bush footy: A way of life.

“Every Queenslander loves rugby league, but footy out here is much more than just a game,” Webcke says.

“In the bush, we play for our mates, our community and those people who go the distance every week just because they care.

Bush footy: A way of life

“You know who I’m talking about. The ones who make sure the fields get mowed, the kids get coached, games get refereed, and the canteens keep ticking over.

“Bush footy keeps tiny towns buzzing, and country pubs roaring. It brings people together who live hours apart.”

The inspirational pictures will light the fuse for future Maroons and diehard supporters across the state as they gear up for an explosive opening to the men’s series following last week’s historic women’s clash at Suncorp Stadium.

“It helps country kids dream big, all the way to the Cauldron,” Webcke says.

The video also highlights the significance of bush competitions and time-honoured representative games and carnivals like the XXXX Foley Shield, Frank Fisher Cup and XXXX 47th Battalion.

XXXX Foley Shield 2024 creates lifelong bonds

To ensure these games remain a centrepiece of country rugby league in the years to come, the QRL is fighting hard to secure funding that delivers carnivals and unique opportunities for players, referees, coaches and administrators.  

The QRL is also looking to inject more resources into community rugby league to support volunteers, many of whom are already feeling the pinch following an increase in participation across the state (nearly seven per cent overall year to date growth).

While QRL chief executive officer Ben Ikin has witnessed many incredible moments throughout his travels into regional Queensland, he knows more needs to be done for the people at the coalface.

“The QRL is committed to supporting the many thousands of volunteers who make bush footy possible, because strong community rugby league clubs help strengthen the communities they represent,” Ikin said.

As a former teammate of Ikin’s and a big supporter of the QRL’s mission to create healthy community clubs and leagues, Webcke is well equipped to have the final word.

“The game we all love wouldn’t be the same without the bush, and the bush wouldn’t be the same without rugby league,” Webcke says.

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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