State battle lines will be drawn once again this weekend as North and South Queensland fight it out in Townsville to determine Queensland community football supremacy.
This year the match will be played at Riverway Stadium as a curtain closer to the Gold Coast SUNS’ historic match against St Kilda – the first AFL match in the region played for premiership points.
Having lost last year’s contest by a mere 13-points, the North Queensland home side find themselves in the hot seat. Meanwhile, South Queensland have moved to an unprecedented 3-2 lead in the overall series ledger having won the past three contests. 2018’s match was the first time either team tasted victory on home turf.
This weekend North Queensland will introduce a host of new players to the representative stage in hope of evening up the overall leader board.
North Queensland coach Brad Cooper, who is leading the team for a third time, said the new-look side presented an interesting prospect for the contest, one he hopes will add some extra excitement to the field.
“There are a lot of new players in the team this year,” Cooper said.
“We have a young and quick team, which is exciting.
“We are really looking forward to the challenge.”
Among North Queensland’s new faces is former North Melbourne speedster Eddie Sansbury (Cairns City Lions) who played on 40 occasions for the Kangaroos during his five-year career in the top flight.
Sansbury, who has been named in the forward pocket, is one of three former AFL talents donning the NQ blue this weekend.
He is joined by Brett Meredith (Port Douglas), who played 16 games for Sydney in the mid-2000s, who will be an integral cog in the midfield and Aaron Davey, who played 178 games with Melbourne.
Among the other first-time North Queensland representatives is Tyron Rainbird (Cairns City Lions), a former Tasmanian Under 23 representative player who earned his selection on the back of recent form in the Cairns competition, having booted a 13-goal haul earlier this season.
Experienced names Jason Di Betta (Hermit Park) and captain Jermaine Wardle (South Cairns), who first played in the inaugural NQ v SQ match in 2014, will also line up for North Queensland.
The Southerners enter the contest favourites in no small part due to the successful reign of their coach and former Mayne mastermind Danny Craven, who remains undefeated in his time shuffling the magnets for SQ.
Like their opponents South Queensland will also welcome a handful of new faces to their line up this year, headlined by the inclusion of team vice-captain and former Broadbeach playing life member Nathan Quick.
Over the summer Quick traded his Broadbeach hoops for the blue and claret of QFA Division 1 HART Sport Cup outfit University of Queensland, giving him the chance to play in his first NQ v SQ clash. His addition to the side alleviates the loss of young defender Jason Kennedy, who claimed best on ground honours in 2018 but won’t feature in this year’s clash.
Quick will be joined by dashing halfbacks Tyle Williams (Maroochydore) and Dean Hartley (Mayne) in the SQ defence.
Up forward, the South Queensland side will benefit from the addition of another QAFL veteran in Jordan Bain (Springwood), who will join forces with Mitch Scholard (Maroochydore) and South Queensland captain Ben Merritt (Bond University).
Together, the trio have booted 71 goals across the QFA Division 1 and 2 competitions and could pose a challenge for the likes of North Queensland’s Ezekiel Frank and Wes Glass.
Of course, the greatest challenge of a representative showdown such as this is gelling the players ahead of the game. The region of South Queensland spans over 300km and over 1000km for North Queensland.
With both teams boasting considerable talent, whichever side is best able to bring together a cohesive unit will no doubt have the upper hand once the final siren sounds at Riverway Stadium on Saturday.
The North Queensland v South Queensland clash will take place at Riverway Stadium in Townsville at 4:30pm.
You can tune into the live stream of the match here
Tickets are available at ticketek.com.au
Match Day Information
Riverway Stadium, Townsville
Saturday 15 June
AFL Premiership Round 13
Gold Coast SUNS v St Kilda Saints
North Queensland v South Queensland Representative Match