NRC Squad Announcement: Queensland Country
The fifth instalment of the National Rugby Championship (NRC) gets underway in a month’s time. First cabs off the rank to announce their squads were the two Queensland-based sides, and we’ve already taken a look at Brisbane City. So let’s see what’s happening at the reigning champions, Queensland Country.
After three years of massive underachievement, Country struck gold last year under coach Brad Thorn. Having won just five of their 23 matches prior to his arrival, they won six of their eight regular season games before seeing off the Fijian Drua in the semis, and upsetting Canberra Vikings on their own turf in the nation’s capital to bring home their inaugural title in style.
With Thorn moving up to take the reins of the Queensland Reds, the head coaching role falls to a familiar face in Rod Seib in 2018. A former head coach of Sunnybank Rugby club in the Queensland Premier competition, Seib was also assistant (2014) and head coach (2016) with Country’s state rivals Brisbane City, and is currently Queensland Schoolboys head coach as well as assistant with Bond University. A busy man!
He is joined by former Fijian international scrumhalf Mosese Raulini, himself currently an assistant with Souths in the Queensland Premier comp, alongside Queensland Reds Senior Video Analyst Michael Todd.
They will be overseeing a 36-man squad that contains a healthy number of Reds – 19 to be exact, with the remaining 17 players all coming from the ranks of Queensland Premier Rugby. And eleven of the squad can all trace their roots back to country Queensland, including players such as Duncan Paia’aua (Rockhampton), Harry Hoopert (Jondaryn), and Tate McDermott (Sunshine Coast), who all came up through the regional schools and clubs program.
Continuing their aim of reconnecting with regional areas, Country will be taking matches to Townsville, Mackay and the Gold Coast this season.
“I’m really excited about this year’s National Rugby Championship and the group we’ve brought together,” said coach Seib.
“We have a lot of returning players from both the Reds and club Rugby, and a particularly exciting group of young players who performed well last year with many going on to represent the Reds in 2018. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ve improved with a season of Super Rugby under their belts.
“I’m also pleased to be able to reward and recognise club players who’ve been outstanding throughout the season, with a number of club players coming into the NRC fold for the first time.
“Considering we’re also taking matches to regions further north in Townsville and Mackay, it’s going to be an exciting year for the squad.”
They kick-off the defence of their title with a Grand Final re-match against the Canberra Vikings at Viking Park in Canberra, on Saturday, September 1st. Their first home game sees them entertain Melbourne Rising at Townsville’s Mike Carney Park on Sunday, September 9th.
Video courtesy of QRU Media Unit
QUEENSLAND COUNTRY 2018 SQUAD
Props: Richie Asiata (Easts); Taniela Tupou (Wallabies allocated player – Queensland Reds/Brothers); Kirwan Sanday (Easts); Fred Burke (GPS); Harry Hoopert (Queensland Reds/Brothers); Jake Simeon (Souths); James Slipper (Queensland Reds/Bond University)
Hookers: Alex Casey (Souths); Efi Ma’afu (Wests); Matt Faessler (Brothers)
Locks: Angus Blyth (Queensland Reds/Bond University); Josh Fenner (Sunnybank); Rob Puli’uvea (Wests); Izack Rodda (Wallabies allocated player – Queensland Reds/Easts); Harry Hockings (Queensland Reds/University of Queensland)
Backrowers: Angus Scott-Young (Queensland Reds/University of Queensland); Liam Wright (Queensland Reds/Easts); Caleb Timu (Wallabies allocated player – Queensland Reds/Souths); Tainui Ford (Bond University); Tom Kibble (GPS); Harry Wilson (Brothers); Sunia Finefeuiaki (Souths)
Scrumhalves: James Tuttle (Queensland Reds/GPS); Tate McDermott (Queensland Reds/University of Queensland)
Flyhalves: Hamish Stewart (Queensland Reds/Bond University); Teti Tela (Queensland Reds/Souths)
Centres: Duncan Paia’aua (Queensland Reds/Norths); Chris Feauai-Sautia (Queensland Reds/Souths); Tony Hunt (Norths); Daniel Boardman (Bond University)
Outside Backs: Izaia Perese (Queensland Reds/Easts); Jordan Petaia (Queensland Reds/Wests); Jock Campbell (University of Queensland); Filipo Daugunu (Queensland Reds/Wests); Joey Fittock (Bond University); Patrick James (Brothers)