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XXXX Chair's Challenge: Vikings talents eager to press claims

Gold Coast Vikings' inaugural women's team will be relying on club combinations and experienced on-field leadership in their XXXX Chair's Challenge, while a number of exciting rising stars will get their chance to shake things up in the men's competition.

Vikings women's coach Jordan Dwyer said the group from Currumbin Eagles, Runaway Bay Seagullls and Burleigh Bears were keen to represent the region and make the most of their opportunity.

Emerging talents Shanarlii Peckham, Jaime Phillips and Nadia Windleborn  - the latter who made a BMD Premiership debut this year - will join the likes of internationally-experienced Crys Tamarua and former Women's State of Origin representative Rona Peters, the pair to play a vital role is helping the young guns to their potential.

"Those girls have been leading teams and been at the highest level, in Crys's case for a number of years, and Rona as well and they do a lot for the game at local level too, so I'm looking forward to seeing how they go to help bring on some of the younger girls who are really talented and got the world at their feet, and there's no better people for them to learn off," Dwyer said.

Nadia Windleborn in action for Burleigh Bears' Harvey Norman Under 19s in 2023. Photo: Dylan Parker
Nadia Windleborn in action for Burleigh Bears' Harvey Norman Under 19s in 2023. Photo: Dylan Parker

"A lot of the girls are familiar with each other - Currumbin played Runaway Bay last game and it was a pretty fiercely contested game - so they're all super competitive and the biggest focus is bringing them together off the field... getting them to buy-in and creating a space where they can use all their talents.

"Of course want to win but the development of the players and the connections is what's really important to me."

Vikings men's coach Stuart Wilkins, who took the side to within a whisker of the title in the thrilling conclusion to the 2023 competition, said his side was raring to go.

"The thing you want to hear as a coach is when you say to a player 'do you want to play Chair's Challenge' and they say 'can't wait'," he said.

"Even Dan Shannon, one of the leaders in the front row, he goes 'I'm 100 per cent keen, as long as everyone else is keen and I'm going to go 100 mile an hour' so it's about getting that team synergy together."

Shannon will form the core of the leadership on the back of "excellent" form for Southport Tigers in the highly competitive Rugby League Gold Coast A grade competition.

The likes of Campbell Parihi and Jake Fitzgerald are also set to return after being part of last year's campaign and Wilkins is hoping their knowledge of the concept will pay dividends for young players.

XXXX Chair's Challenge 2024: Inaugural women's teams out to create history

Liam Wilson was one of the first players on his list for selection on the back of blistering form for Runaway Bay Seagulls, alongside Ryder Williams - son of former Canberra Raiders player Jason Williams - who has made a seamless transition into senior footy after a stellar Mal Meninga Cup season.

Wilkins said he was challenging his players to "jump in wherever you need to jump in" should injuries test them during the carnival and to back their ability.

"You're not there for a long time, you're there for a good time, so you may as well enjoy your footy and have a go, throw it around a bit, don't be too worried about going out there and taking a risk, so I like them to play a bit of footy," he said.

Watch every match from the XXXX Chair's Challenge, July 5-7, by subscribing to A Round Pass, granting seven days' access, costs $4.99.

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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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