NQ vs. SQ Men’s Rep Clash Head Coaches Locked In

It’s been a five-year apprenticeship under one of the Masters of the North Queensland (NQ) vs. South Queensland (SQ) Intrastate Rep Program. 2022 will see Rory Lake, SQ Assistant Coach under Danny Craven for the past five years, take over the top job.

And according to the Master himself, the transition will be seamless.

“It was always the view that he’d come along for the ride, learn on the job – the Rep pathway program, and take over one day and that’s what’s now unfolded for him,” said Craven.

“He’s been there every step of the way as the main Assistant Coach for my five years. He’s very much earnt the right to take over the reins and I think he’s ready to take the next step.

“The thing with Rory is, whilst he’s a relatively young coach, he’s coached and played in Premierships in his own rights. He’s got a great footy resume and has spent some time in the Division One and other competition environments through his time in Coorparoo AFC and I think that means he knows and understands the market really well.”

For newly appointed Lake, he’ll carry on the legacies Craven leaves behind but also add his own flavour too.

“Working under Danny for the past five years, I’ve been able to be a close observer and I think he’s done a really good job of building a very strong culture in the SQ Rep Program. It’s gone from us trying to find players to play in the game to now everyone wanting to be involved,” he said.

“The biggest thing I’ve learnt from him is the way he interacts with everyone involved in the program. He’s formed really strong relationships with the players, coaches and support staff and he sets such a good example that everyone follows along with it.

“With Danny staying involved– I know I’ve got him there in my corner to lean on and to pick his brains.”

The NQ v SQ Rep Clash will be played on southern turf this year, with the Gold Coast hosting the game on July 2nd, and Lake is keen to get SQ back to their winning ways.

“I think you’re going to get a really hungry SQ side this year! It’s a strong and respectful rivalry with NQ and we certainly want to get one back again on them,” he said.

“They came really hard at us last year and they were fantastic. They really took things up a level so we’ve got to be prepared for that – prepared to challenge ourselves again, and try to rise back up to their level.”

Aaron “Flash” Davey is back on board for NQ after a successful first year which saw the northerners clinch a 12-point victory at Cazaly’s last June.

The Rep Clash win the first in an epic year of footy for the former Melbourne Demons player.

“We (NQ) broke a four-game losing streak and got the Cup back North – that was a massive honour and tick in my coaching resume,” he said.

“That was followed up by breaking a 38-year drought with Cairns City Lions coming from out of the woods and beating a quality outfit in the Cairns Saints (in the AFL Cairns 2021 Premiership) and then the year was capped off with the Demons taking out the AFL Premiership.

“It was an epic year of footy for me.”

And whilst he’s hoping for a threepeat again, Flash knows NQ have their work cut out for them.

“It’s going to be more tough this year, traveling down to the Gold Coast but what we created last year has everyone pumped and it just adds to the importance and specialness of rep footy for the players coming through,” he said.

“There’s some new guys who have relocated up north giving us more depth to work with.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Lake, who’s confident of the talent coming through the SQ ranks.

“We had a few guys last year who came from the Division Two North and South competitions, and they proved they could play at the rep level, so I think the talent is getting stronger and stronger.

“I’d imagine there’s been a few Victorians who’ve moved up to the tropics of up North as well so I’d imagine both regions will have some really strong squads to pick from this year.”

AFL Queensland Community Football Manager, Barry Gibson, said he was buoyed at the appointment of Lake and the reappointment of Davey.

“SQ have been spoilt with Danny leading the way and we can’t thank him enough for his five years and the legacy he leaves,” he said.

“Rory has been a great servant of the SQ program and has genuinely earned this opportunity and I know he will make the most of it and do an outstanding job.

“Flash did a terrific job last year in getting buy in from the players and a much-needed win for the northerners. I have no doubt he will assemble another quality line-up in 2022.” 

AFL Queensland are currently seeking expressions of interest for Head Coaches and Assistant Coaches for the North Queensland and South Queensland Women’s Representative sides. More information can be found at here.

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