It’s time for the Intrust Super Cup annual Get in the Game Country Week, where six of the seven home games are taken to the bush spread far and wide across Queensland.
This year they are heading to Mundubbera, Clermont, St George, Julia Creek, Bamaga, and Winton. Plus Port Moresby in PNG for the Hunters match against the Cutters. A shame that couldn’t be played in the bush, as wouldn’t the folk out west love the Hunters. Of course they would.
It is the fifth year the Intrust Super Cup has ventured away from the Brisbane and the Regional cities that house the current teams, and it makes for an interesting round of rugby league. Something a little bit different. Could the NRL adopt such a thing? Of course, if they stop thinking about fans instead of Marvel themed jerseys. The paltry four game, origin affected rounds would be prime for a trip to the bush. It’s not as if there’s much interest in the NRL at that time anyway. A full explanation on that below.
Onto what should be a fascinating weekend of rugby league in the Intrust Super Cup and the Get in the Game Country Week.
2017’s INTRUST SUPER CUP COUNTRY WEEK – PREVIEW IN 20 WORDS OR SO
Wynnum Manly Seagulls (8th) v Northern Pride (13th) at Yusia Ginau Oval, Bamaga
A last minute field goal last weekend keeps the Seagulls finals hope alive, the Northern Pride have now lost 8 in a row.
CQ Capras (12th) v Redcliffe Dolphins (4th) at Bear Park, Clermont
A 4th loss in 7 games has seen the former competition front runner drop to fourth. Central Capras are just one point above last place.
Ipswich Jets (7th) v Townsville Blackhawks (5th) at Eric Lenton Memorial Recreation Ground, Winton
A replay of the 2015 Grand Final won by Ipswich. The Jets will need to keep winning to avoid missing the finals for the second round in a row. Townsville have turned around a mid season slump to sit fifth.
Easts Tigers (3rd) v Norths Devils (10th) at Archer Park, Mundubbera
Easts Tigers have now won four in a row and leapfrogged Redcliffe into 3rd last weekend. Norths were another team to lose by a last minute field goal last weekend.
Burleigh Bears (11th) v Sunshine Coast Falcons (2nd) at Rowden Park, St George
Bears saw off local Gold Coast rival Tweed Heads last weekend, whilst the Falcons got a rest from the bye. They are looking very good heading into the final series.
Souths Logan Magpies (6th) v Tweed Heads Seagulls (14th) at Kev Bannah Oval, Julia Creek
The Magpies can probably see of any challenger for a finals spot this weekend with a win. Tweed Heads sit last but a win could see them move off the bottom for a rare occasion in 2017.
PNG Hunters (1st) v Mackay Cutters (8th) at National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
OK, not one of the Country Week games, but still an important match for them as the PNG Hunters are chasing a first minor premiership, and if they did it would be a great moment for rugby league. Mackay Cutters are in the chasing pack for the Top 6.
INTRUST SUPER CUP COUNTRY WEEK BETTING
Wynnum $1.45 Pride $2.70 – Pride +6.5 start
Central $3.10 Redcliffe $1.35 – Central +8.5 start
Ipswich $2.70 Townsville $1.45 – Ipswich +6.5 start
Easts $1.45 Norths $2.70 – Norths +6.5 start
Burleigh $3.10 Sunshine Coast $1.35 – Burleigh +8.5 start
Souths Logan $1.35 Tweed Heads $3.10 – Tweed Heads +8.5 start
PNG Hunters $1.25 Mackay Cutters $3.80 – Mackay +10.5 start
INTRUST SUPER CUP COUNTRY WEEK TIPS
Pride +6.5 start
Redcliffe to win
Townsville to win
Easts to win
Burleigh to win
Souths Logan to win
PNG Hunters to win
$1 for $17
PNG HUNTERS CORNER
With so much on, instead our usual quick PNG Hunters round up, why not read our passionate piece about how the PNG Hunters could be the feelgood story for rugby league in 2017.
WHY NOT A COUNTRY WEEK FOR THE NRL?
Queensland’s Intrust Super Cup competition hosts the next instalment of their Get Into The Game Country Week this weekend, where all games in Queensland have been taken to the country. It has been running now for some years, and is one of the real highlights of the calendar.
And it is an idea that the NRL should give some serious thought into. More on the timing of that later.
With all the commercial focus of the NRL, Marvel Super Heroes Round (limited to teams supplied by ISC and drawn out over 2 weeks) being the worst example, isn’t it time the competition, its clubs and players gave a little back to the real grassroots supporters? The lifeblood if you will.
One could point out that NRL already does this, but that is just the occasional game here and there, limited to certain clubs. Penrith have taken a game to Bathurst for a few seasons now, and there was a Manly game in Albury a few seasons back.
Whilst rugby league should continue to play these games as a one off and crack into markets like Adelaide, Perth and Darwin, an entire Country Week or two would give a real boost to the country, especially after the annual City v Country has been canned. And it should be an entire Country Week round so the focus is entirely on country rugby league, not lost as a one off novelty in a full round of fixtures.
You may say two Country Weeks? Surely one is enough or too many, but hear me out.
Think about the impact of State of Origin on the competition, in particular the highly underwhelming rounds of just four games without origin stars. Interest couldn’t be lower in the NRL on these weekends, and deservedly so. So these weekends would be the prime candidate to become an NRL version of the Country Week.
With 2018 featuring one standalone Origin clash that leaves 2 x 4 rounds remaining, a convenient half of the 16 teams. This means that over a two year cycle, all teams would have the opportunity to give back to the country. Including teams like the Broncos, who given their geographic advantage could afford to lose one home game every two years. Having every team giving up a home game over two seasons would also be the only fair way to do it.
Imagine the Broncos taking a game to Bowen or the Whitsundays to give a little cheer in the cyclone affected area, South Sydney playing in Kempsey, and the Melbourne Storm taking a match to somewhere like Swan Hill. Media savvy clubs could use Social Media to get locals to campaign for their town to become the host of the game. It could be a revolution, if someone wanted to take the risk.
One could argue that a national competition shouldn’t be playing at tiny country crowds of towns with populations of as low as 5000 people, but at least those grounds would be full, and it would be more interesting than the current 4 game rounds.
It should also be the full experience too. Not just fly in for the game and fly straight back out, but like the Intrust Super Cup teams who spend many days in the area before hand conducting training sessions and being amongst the people.
The locations should not just be the big regional cities, but consideration for the smaller rugby league towns who normally get overlooked.
Take the locations that the Intrust Super Cup have been to over the years, there’s been a wide range of locations from a varied distances from the main cities, and certainly featured some very small places. It makes it a true Country week with going to these places.
The list below shows just how far and wide the Intrust Super Cup teams have travelled over the years, and if it were to be done properly, the NRL version should travel the same distances to a similarly diverse range of locations.
There has to be a full buy-in to take the game to the country, and do it properly. Hopefully someone at Rugby League Central could be brave enough to do something different for the national competition.
Doubt it though.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE COUNTRY WEEK LOCATIONS
2017: Bamaga, Clermont, Winton, Mundubbera, St George, Julia Creek – see below for more.
2016: Barcaldine, Charleville, Gympie, Ravenshoe, Mount Isa, Moranbah
2015: Dalby, Blackall, Bundaberg, Charters Towers, Innisfail, Stanthorpe
2014: Longreach, Emerald, Moranbah, Mareeba, Kingaroy, Kokopo (Papua New Guinea)
2013: Burleigh, Roma, Whitsundays, Woodford, Toowoomba, Yarrabah
SO WHERE EXACTLY ARE THEY PLAYING THIS WEEK?