Since the begginning of time, North v South has been one of the most historical battles around the world, and this Saturday, another chapter of the Queensland footy aspect will be added when North Queensland take on South Queensland.
Regional pride will be on the line when they meet, but the game itself presents a bit of an unknown.
The only form guide we can go on is that, in their two meetings in the last two years, NQ have taken out both.
Let’s look a little deeper than that though.
The most challenging aspect of representative footy is getting 23 blokes on the same page as quickly as possible.
North Queensland Coach Rick Hanlon is believes that hasn’t been as issue for them.
“It’s been really good. We have had the six-week process around Monday night trainings, and then this week, with three nights on the paddock. The group, overall, are very familiar with one another,” Hanlon said.
“They either play with or against each other, I think overall the group has come together really well. They are very determined about the whole process.”
South Queensland Coach Danny Craven agreed.
“That’s certainly one of the toughest challenges we face. You’d love to have a few more sessions, they have been good, but I guess we will find out at about 6 o’clock Saturday night,” he said.
The finals squads, which can be found HERE, and star studded.
NQ have the likes of Matt West, Aaron McNaband Kieran Daley running around, while SQ can rely on the experience of Brent Moloney, Ben Merret and Jake De Winter.
While both coaches haven’t put too much time into the opposition, preferring to focus on their own back yard, history tells us that NQ will try and play a quicker brand of footy, and use their runners, while SQ will try and combat that with some of their bigger bodies.
Hanlon didn’t buy into that too much though. He is trying to keep the game style as simple as possible.
“Just to play your role, and when it’s your turn to win the footy, make it happen. There is no specific game plan. When you’re dealing with a group of rep players at this level, they all know how to play, so it’s no good coming in and trying to change the way they play,” he said.
“I want them to use their instincts and play the way they know how to, and that they are comfortable with. We have got a chance of being successful if we don’t confuse things, so I want them to keep it simple, and make decisions for themselves.”
For Craven, as much as we hate clichés at AFL Queensland Media HQ, these were fitting.
“It’ll be a lot of footy stables, a lot of clichés. You are throwing together blokes from 16 clubs. They will have to punch from behind in defence, play in front forward, and play good stable footy. There wont be any massive tricks out there it will be pretty honest footy,’ he said.
While representing your region is always special, playing in front of a big crowd, on a ground which hosts and AFL game straight after makes it even bigger.
“I think our boys are really keen for that. We don’t get the opportunity to see much elite football here, so to be a part of the day is really encouraging for the boys,” Hanlon said.
North Queensland leads the head-to-head count, which doesn’t sit well with the Southerners.
“We are zip and two, and they have had the bragging rights, so there is a bit of incentive there for the group to achieve something that hasn’t been done in this format,” Craven said.
“We will be up against it, playing up in Cairns, travelling up on the day, there are a few obstacles, but we relish the thought of climbing over them all.”
The North Queensland weather won’t be the only thing heating up on Saturday, this will be red-hot from the opening bounce.
If you can’t make it to the game, don’t miss a minute with the live stream HERE
The match will be a curtain raiser to the Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast SUNS clash at Cairns’ Cazaly’s stadium, kicking off at 4:20pm. Tickets can be purchased HERE
By Andrew Wiles