Queensland country’s NRC history is polar opposite to Queenslands other NRC side. While City has won two NRC championships and held the Horan Little Shield for all of the 2015 season. Country on the other hand have two eighth place finishes to their name. But this year things have changed. A new coaching regime and a pretty good roster (despite losing Lukan Tui to city) should see them win more than their share of matches in 2016.
Queensland country has a proud history tracking back to 1886 and I could waffle on for a bit about it but I think Wikipedia does a pretty good job so I will use there’s instead.
The Queensland Country team in the NRC draws its identity from the Queensland Country representative team that has played in regular City-Country fixtures in Queensland since 1902. The same colours have been adopted for the team in the NRC competition and, while the Heelers’ cattle dog logo is not used, an emblem based on the traditional Cooktown Orchid logo of the Queensland Country Rugby Union has been adopted. The Queensland Country uniform is blue and white, with a crest of the orchid logo inside Queensland Rugby’s traditional ‘Q’ on the jersey’s chest.
The NRC was launched in 2014, reinstating the national competition after the Australian Rugby Championship (ARC) was discontinued following the first season in 2007. The Queensland Country NRC team plays in various Queensland regional centres. Existing QRU staffing roles and infrastructure are utilised, and the training base for the team is at QRU’s headquarters at Ballymore
Player Age Club Rep Honours Country Background
Props Sef Faagase* 24 UQ ARU National Academy, Brisbane City NRC (2014), Queensland Country (2015), Reds, Reds A Queensland Country U19 representative
Richie Asiata 20 Easts Queensland Schoolboys (2013, 2014), Australian Schools (2014), Queensland U20s (2016), Australia U20s (2016) Taniela Tupou* 20 Brothers Tongan U14s, Pacific Barbarians (2014), Queensland Country (2015), Reds (2015-) Ben Daley* 28 Bond Australian U19s (2006), QAS Reds Academy (2007), Australian U20s (2008), Queensland Reds (2008-2016), Wallabies (2010, 2011) Gold Coast Junior
Kirwan Sanday* 25 Easts Sydney Stars (2015) James Slipper* 27 Bond Reds (2010-), Australian Schoolboys (2007), Australian U20s (2009), Australia A (2010), Wallabies (2010-) Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast Rugby Junior, Bond University Premier Rugby (Gold Coast), The Southport School
Hookers Feleti Kaituu 22 GPS Queensland Schoolboys (2011), Australia Schoolboys (2011), Reds A (2014), Australian U20s (2014) Alex Casey 25 Souths Brisbane City NRC (2015) Saia Faingaa* 29 GPS Australian Schoolboys (2003-2004), Australian Under 19s (2006), Brumbies (2007-2008), Reds (2009-), Wallabies (2010-), Queensland Country NRC (2014, 2015) Stephen Moore 33 Easts (ACT) Reds (2003-2008) (2017-) Rockhampton Junior
Brumbies (2009-2016), Wallabies (2005-) Locks Izack Rodda 19 Easts Queensland Schoolboys (2014), Australian Schoolboys (2014), Australian U20s (2016) Tyrell Barker* 28 Easts Queensland Academy of Sport U19s (2007), Queensland Country (2015) Brad Thorn 41 GPS Brisbane Broncos, Queensland (State of Origin), Australian Kangaroos, Canterbury ITM, Tasman ITM, Crusaders, Sanix Blues, Leinster, Highlanders, Leicester, All Blacks Phil Potgieter* 21 UQ Queensland Schoolboys (2012) Australia A Schoolboys (2012) Queensland U20s (2014-2015), Queensland Country (2015), Australian Barbarians (2015, 2016) Toowoomba Grammar School, Darling Downs Rugby junior
Rob Simmons* 27 Sunnybank Reds (2009-), Queensland Schoolboys (2006), Australian Schoolboys (2006), Australian U19s (2007), Australian U20s (2008), Wallabies (2010-) Raised in Theodore, Central Queensland
Backrowers Angus Scott-Young 19 UQ Queensland U16s (2013), Queensland U20s (2015, 2016), Australian U20s (2016) Jack Cornelsen* 21 UQ Queensland Schoolboys (2011-2012), Australian Schoolboys (2012), Queensland Sevens (2015), Queensland Country (2015), Australian Sevens Development team (2015) Gold Coast Rugby junior
Connor Mitchell* 22 UQ Queensland Schoolboys (2011), Queensland Country (2015), Australian Sevens (2016) Sunshine Coast Rugby junior
Maclean Jones* 20 UQ Australian U20s (2015, 2016), Queensland Under-20s (2015, 2016), Australian Schoolboys (2013), Queensland Schoolboys (2013), Queensland Country (2015) Raised in St.George (Darling Downs)
Apisai Naiyabo 30 Norths Fiji Sevens Lolo Fakaosilea* 21 Sunnybank Reds (2015-), Australian U20s (2014-2015), Queensland U20s (2014-2015), Reds A (2014), Australian Schoolboys (2012-2013), Queensland Schoolboys (2012-2013), Queensland U16s (2011) Central Queensland Rugby (Emerald) junior, Represented Central Queensland at Junior State Championships (2011)
Scrumhalves James Tuttle* (C) 19 GPS Queensland U20s (2014, 2015, 2016), Australian U20s (2015, 2016), Queensland Schoolboys. Queensland Country (2014, 2015); Scott Malolua* 23 Souths Queensland Country (2015) Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 20 Sunnybank Queensland Schoolboys (2013) Far North Queensland junior Port Douglas Reef Raiders / Gold Coast The Southport School
Flyhalves Mack Mason* 20 Easts Queensland U16s (2013), Born in Cairns / Raised on family property outside of Mitchell
Melbourne Storm U20s (2015), Queensland Country (2015) Mitch Third 20 Bond Queensland Schoolboys (2013), Australian Schoolboys (2013), Canberra Vikings (2015) Gold Coast Junior, Bond University Premier Rugby
Centres Duncan Paiaaua* 21 Norths Reds (2015-), Queensland U16s, Broncos U20s (2013-2014), Queensland U20s (2015), Australian U20s (2015), Queensland Country NRC (2014, 2015) Rockhampton Rugby Junior
Matt Gordon* 21 Easts Queensland U15s, U16s, Combined Secondary Schools (2011), Queensland Country (2015) Darling Downs Rugby junior, Downlands College (Toowoomba)
Campbell Magnay* 19 GPS Queensland Schoolboys (2013), Australian Schoolboys (2013), Queensland U20s (2015, 2016), Australian U20s (2015, 2016), Queensland Country (2014, 2015), Reds (2015-) Josh Birch 21 UQ Newcastle Nights U20s (2013-2015) Kingaroy/Bundaberg
Outside Backs Izaia Perese* 19 Easts Reds Elite Development Squad (2015), Queensland U20s (2015), Australian Schoolboys (2014), Queensland Schoolboys (2014), Queensland U16s (2013), Queensland Country (2015) Tom Banks* 22 UQ Queensland U20s (2014), Queensland Schoolboys (2011-2012), Reds (2015, 2016), Queensland Country (2015) Tyronne Lefau* 25 Wests Western Force (2012, 2013), Counties Manukau ITM (2013) Queensland Country (2015) Liam McNamara 19 Sunnybank Queensland U20s (2016), Australian U20s (2016), Australian University Rugby Sevens (2016) Eto Nabuli 27 GPS Penrith Panthers (2014), St.George Dragons (2015), Fiji Rugby League (2014,2015), Reds (2016-) Tom Pincus* 24 UQ Queensland Country NRC (2014, 2015) Gold Coast Rugby junior
The Wallabies aligned to the squad are Stephen Moore, Rob Simmons and James Slipper.
But wait… There’s more! Add ex Wallabies Saia Fainga’a and Ben Daley, All Black and Kangaroo legend Brad Thorn and emerging Talents like Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda, Angus Scott-Young, Jack Cornelson and Sef Fa’agase and your looking at an exceptional forward pack.
In the back line the big names are a bit thinner but there’s plenty of talent running around. James Tuttle, Mack Mason, Duncan Paia’aua, Campbell Magnay and Eto Nabuli all have super rugby experience and talent to burn. Add Tom Banks, a player I’m keen ton see more of, and things are looking pretty good.
1. Ben Daley 2. Saia Fainga’a 3. Taniela Tupou 4. Izack Rodda 5. Phill Potgieter 6. Angus Scott-Young 7. Conor Mitchell 8. Jack Cornelson 9. James Tuttle 10. Mack Mason 11. Eto Nabuli 12. Duncan Paia’aua 13. Campbell Magnay 14. Izaia Perese 15. Tom Banks
Head Coach: Toutai Kefu
Assistant Coach (Defence): Jason Gilmore
Assistant Coach (Forwards): Brad Thorn
Head of Physical Preparation: Dave Ballard
Yes. There is some bloody big names in the coaches box. Wallaby legend Toutai Kefu takes over the head coaching duties. Kefu has had mixed success as a coach, he is the current coach of Tonga but his contract ends this year. Last years head coach is running the defence this year. Jason Gilmore has been around the traps for years and generally knows his stuff without taking the next step. Brad Thorn continues his transition from playing legend to coach. If Brad Thorn told me I had to eat Kale every day to succeed I’d be eating Kale. He’ll do alright.
Country are pretty unlucky to only get three home games. This year they are splitting the games with to on the Gold coast and one up at Toowoomba at Clive Berghoffer Stadium. I know country like to take their games far and wide but I’m pretty happy to have them closer to home this year. Seriously, if you get a chance to go to this game grab it. The ground and atmosphere is amazing and I can personally vouch for the steak burger.
Round seven is the traditional City v Country match played for the Andy Purcell Cup. Another big game with great atmosphere and pretty good steak burgers.
With what I think is an improved coaching team and a better, but untested, roster Queensland country can go all the way this year. I’m going to hedge my bets and call them for third.