It’s round two for the North and South Queensland sides when they face off in the State Representative Carnival curtain raiser on Sunday.
The Northerners walked away from the Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex with the goods in 2014, and will be looking to make it two-from-two.
North Queensland Coach John Tootell said that while he expects to face a very different South Queensland team this year, there are also a lot of new faces among his charges.
“There’s been a lot changes; we have only retained five players from last year’s game,” said Tootell.
“They’re a solid side … very well built, with a lot of outside run and strong players up forward and down back.
“The formula stays the same though, and we have strengthened some areas up forward and down back as well.”
The North Queensland team also knows they’ll be matched at every turn, something Tootell believes they’re well prepared for.
“They have a pretty quick, high transition team, so we also need to make sure we stop their run early,” he said.
“They have a very strong team, so we will be looking at everyone and have a look at a few match-ups through the midfield”.
South Queensland Coach Will Fozard said he knows how tough the game will be, highlighting the importance of getting on top in the middle early.
“We’re expecting a really tough, physical encounter with a lot of contested football,” said Fozard.
“Obviously their midfield is their strongest point, and we’ll look to get on top in that area as best we can.
“If we can win the ball early through the midfield and get it going forward quickly, I think that’s where we can really get on top.”
A big factor in determining the outcome of the game will come down to North Queensland Captain, and forward line maestro, Matt Walsh.
“Matt Walsh their captain, he’s a very good player and always knows where the goals are so we’ll have to keep our eyes on him,” Fozard said.
Each team’s ability to gel quickly and cohesively will be on full display come Sunday, and both coaches are confident their team has come together well at the right time.
“The boys that are in Cairns have trained really well together, but we’ll be waiting until we all arrive in Brisbane before we can all meet up and look towards the game,” said Tootell.
“The team we have is a really good mix of youth and experience, and we will be looking to utilize that come game day.”
Despite being plagued by injuries, Fozard believes he has the team to go one better than last year.
“There have been a few injuries, and that has caused a few changes through the team, but the group has trained really well together,” said Fozard.
If last year is anything to go by, It’s set to be a gripping contest between these two proud parts of the state.
North Queensland v South Queensland match kicks off at 10:30am
By Byron Parish