BOND University Queensland Country head coach Steve Meehan has named his side to face the NSW Country Eagles at Bond University this Saturday, 30 August, in Queensland Country’s first match of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC).
Following a bye in Round 1, Queensland Country will began it’s campaign on the Gold Coast this weekend. The side will be bolstered by the presence of four St.George Queensland Reds players, three of which are capped Wallabies.
The remainder of the team comprises of players from Queensland Premier Rugby, with the four finalist clubs, University, Sunnybank, GPS and Brothers strongly represented.
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Reds centre Anthony Fainga’a will captain Queensland Country in his first match back since the Reds 36-20 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Round 17 of Super Rugby.
Meehan said while Fainga’a and fellow Reds player Beau Robinson have provided great leadership for the squad, the existing Super Rugby players are feeding off the enthusiasm of newer players heading into Saturday’s match.
“Anthony, assisted by Beau, has provided some great leadership and direction to the squad since the team first came together, and the squad is really starting to build a strong bond,” Meehan said.
“While the Reds players are having a positive impact on the club players in the squad, we can also see the inverse effect and the more experienced squad members are feeding off the excitement and enthusiasm of the club players who are keen to play their first match for Queensland Country.
“The players and staff are all conscious of the responsibility they have to represent Queensland Country. The attitude and desire of the players has resulted in an impressive level of intensity at training.”
Queensland Country’s frontrow will be led by Reds stalwart Greg Holmes at tighthead. He will be joined by former Queensland Country Heelers representatives Ryan Freney at hooker and Haydn Hirsimaki at loosehead. Hirsimaki represented Queensland & NSW Combined Country against the British & Irish Lions in 2013 and played alongside Holmes for Sunnybank in the 2014 Premier Grand Final.
The second row features Gold Coast locals Cameron Bracewell and Sam Fattal.
Reds flanker Beau Robinson will start in the seven jersey. He will be joined by two of Queensland Country’s North Queensland contingent in James Turner (Cairns) at blindside and 2014 Premier Rugby Grand Finalist Ben Adams (Mackay) at Number 8.
The halves pairing of recent Reds debutant Scott Gale at halfback and Easts Tigers stalwart Matt Brandon at flyhalf will steer the team around the park.
Fainga’a will be joined in the centres by one of Brothers Rugby Club’s brightest young talents in Clynton Knox.
The back three will feature 2014 Tony Shaw Medallist Tom Pincus, as well as Brothers livewire Pierce Fitzgerald and sizeable GPS fullback Todd Winkley.
Meehan has gone for a six-two split on the bench, with Norths hooker Tonga Ma’afu and props Kirwan Sanday (Easts) and Fred Burke (GPS) providing front row cover. Gold Coast lock Rubin Fuimaono will provide cover at lock while Mitch King (GPS) and Jack de Guingand (University) have been named as reserve loose forwards.
Two of the competition’s youngest talents will provide cover for the Queensland Country backline in James Tuttle (18) who can cover both halfback and flyhalf, and Campbell Magnay (17), who has the ability to play centre and wing. Both players represented the Queensland and Australian Schoolboys in 2013.
Australian Under 20s backrower Lolo Fakaosilea and Reds Wider Training Squad member Sam Johnson were unavailable for selection due to injury.
Queensland Country will host NSW Country in their first match of the National Rugby Championship at Bond University this Saturday 30 August at 3:00pm. Entry to the match will be free of charge thanks to hosts Bond University. The match will also be LIVE streamed on the www.redsrugby.com.au homepage.
Prior to the match, Bond University will host a Senior Schoolboys Showdown curtain raiser match between Gold Coast Blue Bombers and the Gold Coast Red Devils, who comprise of players from various Gold Coast High Schools. This match will kick off at 1:00pm.
Bond University Queensland Country v NSW Country Eagles, Bond University, Saturday August 30, 3:00pm
1. Haydn Hirsimaki – Sunnybank
2. Ryan Freney – GPS
3. Greg Holmes (VC) – Reds/Sunnybank
4. Cameron Bracewell – Bond University
5. Sam Fattal – Easts
6. James Turner – Souths
7. Beau Robinson – Reds/Souths
8. Ben Adams – Sunnybank
9. Scott Gale – Reds WTS/University of Queensland
10. Matt Brandon – Easts
11. Pierce Fitzgerald – Brothers
12. Anthony Fainga’a (C) – Reds/GPS
13. Clyton Knox – Brothers
14. Tom Pincus- University of Queensland
15. Todd Winkley – GPS
16. Tonga Ma’afu – Norths
17. Kirwan Sanday – Easts
18. Fred Burke – GPS
19. Rubin Fuimaono – Bond University
20. Mitch King – GPS
21. Jack de Guingand – University of Queensland
22. James Tuttle – GPS
23. Campbell Magnay – GPS