New comp thrashed out

By AARON KELLY THE BATTLE lines have been drawn for next year's Queensland Country Rugby Union Championships.

The Rockhampton Readymix Brahmans are preparing to join an inaugural full state-wide competition, starting in February.

Rounding up the new-look seven-team format, will be Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Darling Downs, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast, with the northern and southern conferences uniting for the first time.

Rockhampton and District Rugby Union (RDRU) president Ian Coombe said it was an exciting opportunity for all teams involved.

"It's good to be able to play everyone to know exactly where you sit,'' Coombe said.

"All the sub-unions have to send in their agreements, but from being in the meetings with all the others, I don't foresee any dramas.''

Rockhampton officials have until next Wednesday to commit to next year's new competition format and run an eye over the proposed draw.

The Brahmans kick off their 2005 representative season campaign with two home games at Rockhampton's Rugby Park against Mackay (February 25) and Townsville (March 4) before a round three bye.

Their title credentials are then on the line next facing reigning northern champions Cairns (March 18), followed by the Sunshine Coast (March 25) and last year's southern winners Gold Coast (April 1) in a daunting tri- ple away header.

Rockhampton return home to play their final clash with the Darling Downs (April 18).

At this stage, there will be no finals, with the first team past the post crowned champions.

Coombe said he was not fussed on the prospects of playing three straight games on the road.

New Brahmans coach Tom Moore will assemble his train-on squad next month to launch preparations for next year's championships.

The under-19 competition is set to remain in two divisions.

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