Festival kicks off league season
IT'S time to put away the training gear and get into the real thing as the local rugby league season begins today with a blockbuster program lined up at both Yeppoon and at Saleyards Park.
It's a "Festival of Football" with four junior matches acting as curtain-raisers to three senior matches at each ground.
All eyes will be on the Yeppoon Seagulls to see if they are the force of last year when they swept aside Brothers in the grand final.
Steve Stafford is in the hot seat at Yeppoon and he believes he has the players to match John Harbin's squad from 2011.
"I think we will go well," he said.
The call up of Jakk Kavanagh to the Capras means a few last-minute changes of plan for the champion side.
"That chucked a spanner in the works," Stafford admitted.
"He is going to be missed."
While losing his first-choice lock, Stafford is happy to regain Casey Bromilow for his five-eighth as he was surplus to requirements with the Capras.
Stafford said he would be giving Tyrone Cranston a run in the centres which means youngster Damon Ward retains his position at full back.
This year Stafford predicts the Seagulls will have a very mobile pack with brothers Ben and Matt Bromley taking up positions in the front and second rows.
Yeppoon has picked up a few players and the coach is excited with what the club might get from former Gold Coaster Matt McCallum.
Today's opponent is Norths and Stafford expects them to take a big side into tonight's match.
"That suits us as we are mobile, I hope to run them around the park," he said. "I think we can beat them around the edges."
At Saleyards Park Brothers will be going all out to stop Fitzroys' party.
Brothers coach Scott Bodley has no doubts that Fitzroys will be fired up as they seek to re-establish themselves as a major force in the competition.
"I said to the players at training this game has got ambush written all over it," he said.
"I am expecting the game to be tight and physical, they will have a big crowd backing them and they have recruited well in the off-season,"
Bodley expects his young team to have learned from the mauling it received in the final with Yeppoon last year and while it has lost players like Gavin Duffy, Reece Baker and BJ Munns he said they have also picked up some talent.
Front-rower Bruce Chapman is expected to make a big impact as is former Brisbane Easts player Ash Humble while second-rower Dan Bertucci had a big off-season and Bodley expects he will be at his best.
In the pre-season Brothers had a 24-14 win over Gladstone Brothers but Bodley, while happy to claim the win, does not see that as an indicator for today's match.
Both A-grade games have a 7pm kick off.