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XXXX Queensland City v Country coaching staff named

Coaching staff have been selected to guide the combatants of the XXXX Queensland City v Country in September.

Former Queensland State of Origin prop John Buttigieg (pictured above) will take the reins of the Country women, while Warwick Cowboys and 2023 XXXX 47th Battalion winning coach with Toowoomba, Colin Speed, will coach the men's side.

Norths Devils 2022 Hostplus Cup premiership-winning co-coach Kevin Neighbour will be in charge of the City men, while Burleigh Bears pathways and development manager Roy Leoni, who previously coached the Bears' BMD Premiership side and the Queensland Rubys, will coach City women.

The teams will feature the pick of players from A grade competitions across the state; Country choosing from the XXXX Foley Shield and XXXX 47th Battalion carnivals, and City from the XXXX Chair's Challenge.

Col Speed embraces one of his players after coaching Toowoomba to XXXX 47th Battalion glory in 2023.
Col Speed embraces one of his players after coaching Toowoomba to XXXX 47th Battalion glory in 2023.

QRL Central region manager Rob Crow said it was exciting to have such high quality applicants locked in to stoke the classic rivalry.

"We had a large number of high quality applications for the positions, so there was plenty of interest there, which was great to see," he said.

"The men's coach, Col Speed, I know he put his Toowoomba squad together early last year ahead of the XXXX 47th Battalion and really moulded his side before that weekend and the results showed... so he thoroughly deserved the chance at a higher level.

"John Buttigieg, a former Queensland player, has worked with our Queensland Outback women's sides before and many other sides and it's great to have someone of his knowledge and experience taking charge of the women.

"These women are the next level down from the BMD Premiership and he needs to guide them all and get them ready for the next opportunities."

Speed and Buttigieg were present at the XXXX Foley Shield in Mackay last month to cast their eye over potential players as part of the selection panel, and will again do so at the XXXX 47th Battalion Memorial Shield in Kingaroy on July 13-14.

QRL South East region manager Scott Dunshea said both City coaches brought vast experience to their roles and would be keenly watching the XXXX Chair's Challenge on July 5-7 to see the talent at their disposal.

"It was a really difficult pool to choose from, in the men's and the women's," he said.

"Kevin (Neighbour) has had a lot of experience coaching at Cup level and also in the lower grades with Colts and got a lot of strong references on his abilities as a coach, as has also been heavily involved in the BRL and having that knowledge and awareness of players coming through will help them on that pathway to the next level.

"Roy (Leoni) has been around the Burleigh Bears for a lot of years, coached a lot of female teams and has been a strong component of their development as a club in the female space.

"The excitement for XXXX Chair's Challenge is starting to build up and players are getting more aware of this opportunity to be selected for the City team. They know they're not only playing to win the Chair's Challenge, they're playing to make the City team and play on Hostplus Cup grand final day."

Roy Leoni has been appointed Queensland City women's coach.
Roy Leoni has been appointed Queensland City women's coach.

Queensland Country selector Scott Whybird said he was excited to see the XXXX Queensland City v Country concept taking place and impressed at the quality of players seen in Mackay.

"I think it's really important because this gives players another pathway, and especially coming from a country area myself, it gives players who play in the local competitions to test themselves against other people from other areas and to gain selection in a Queensland Country team would be fantastic for them," he said.

"The teams are coming together from all the different areas, so they can be challenged in some ways because they're finding combinations and they're playing over a couple of days that really stretches them a lot.

"It definitely stands out when you see players who can show that resilience when things don't work out for them and they adapt and I think that's part of (selection)."

Watch all the action from the upcoming A grade carnivals - the QRL South East region's XXXX Chair's Challenge on July 5-7 and the QRL Central region's 47th Battalion - by subscribing to A Round Pass allowing 7-day access, is just $4.99.

Queensland Country - Men

Position Name Location
Coach Colin Speed Toowoomba
Assistant coach Bert Tabuai Rockhampton
Level 1 trainer John Haywood Toowoomba
Level 2 trainer Scott Evans Townsville
Manager Michael Fletcher Rockhampton

Queensland County - Women

Position Name Location
Coach John Buttigieg Cairns
Assistant coach Zeke Field Sunshine Coast
Level 1 trainer Morgan Rogers Mackay
Level 2 trainer Sharon Barnard Mackay
Manager Rothana Baira Townsville

Queensland City - Men

Position Name Location
Coach Kevin Neighbour Brisbane
Assistant coach Darren Ferricks Brisbane
Level 1 trainer Andrew Horcicka Gold Coast
Level 2 trainer Dane McQueen Ipswich
Manager Kyle Panebianco Brisbane

Queensland City - Women

Position Name Location
Coach Roy Leoni Gold Coast
Assistant coach Paul Nieuwenhuyzen Brisbane
Level 1 trainer Monique Armstrong Brisbane
Level 2 trainer Heidi Watson Brisbane
Manager Leanna Kelly Ipswich

Main image: Queensland Country women's coach John Buttigieg - FOG #119 - watching on at the XXXX Foley Shield in Mackay in May

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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