Sport

It's game on for league's centenary year

CHARGING RUN: Inspirational front rower Daniel Tanner will again lead the Norths Chargers in the Rockhampton Rugby League competition.
CHARGING RUN: Inspirational front rower Daniel Tanner will again lead the Norths Chargers in the Rockhampton Rugby League competition. Chris Ison ROK030716cleague5

RUGBY LEAGUE: Reigning premiers Norths Chargers and three-times Nines champions, the Yeppoon Seagulls, clash in a blockbuster opener to the Rockhampton senior rugby league competition.

The Rockhampton Rugby League celebrates its centenary this year and the 10 A-grade teams will be desperate to have their name etched on the coveted Jack Browne Memorial Premiership Cup in such a monumental season.

Norths start their quest for back-to-back premierships with a road trip to battle the highly fancied Seagulls at Webb Oval on Sunday afternoon.

Who do you think will win this year's competition?

Woorabinda, who return to the A-grade comp after a 14-year absence, take on Gladstone Brothers, Tannum Sands meets Emu Park and Biloela and Valleys face off in today's fixtures.

Fittingly in the league's 100th year, two of its foundation clubs - Rockhampton Brothers and Fitzroy-Gracemere - meet on Sunday to complete the Round 1 draw.

READ: Norths do the impossible as Brothers rue the one that got away

Norths coach Kane Hardy said his team was a "little underdone" heading into the season opener but he was confident his players would quickly warm to their task.

"We haven't played a trial game so we'll be starting a little bit slow but we've just got to be patient.

"We will be a bit slow out of the blocks but after two or three weeks, once we've got used to each other and have got that match fitness, I'll expect we will start to fire.

"If we can win two out of the first five it will really set us up."

Hardy expects the Seagulls to come out firing, looking to play fast through the middle.

"We'll have to be very disciplined and complete our sets and get into the grind with them," he said.

"We've just got to be aggressive and control that middle, and make sure we don't give them any opportunities."

Experienced campaigner Dan Tanner will captain Norths again this season and Hardy is looking to him and fellow front rower Matt Jarvis to lead from the front.

The coach is tipping big things from his fullback Dan Levi and will also welcome back the talented and "tough as nails" Darcy Davies who will play at either lock or hooker.

READ:Super Seagulls make in three in a row at Nines

Seagulls coach Scott Minto is confident of a strong showing in 2017 after his team was crippled by injuries last year, and coming up against the reigning premiers first up would provide a good yardstick.

"The first full hit-out with the squad is always a good opportunity to get things right and start to build for the year.

"This will be a good test and I'm sure the guys will be up to the challenge," he said.

Captain Jonathan Tavinor will be itching to get back on the paddock after missing all but the opening game of the 2016 season through injury.

Minto believes that his pairing with Cody Grills in the halves will be vital to his team's chances, as will their more senior and experienced forward pack.

The Seagulls will also welcome back Dave McLellan, Sam Creedon and Nick Deaves, who will be sure to push the younger members.

Minto said getting the basics right would be important against Norths on Sunday, as would containing skipper Tanner who has the ability to turn a game.

"It's those small things that allow the team to get some momentum.

"We just need some more time together for the players to gel and get a feel for each other game.

"Everyone in this group wants to play for each other so that means my job's half done before I even get to training."

ROUND 1 FIXTURES

3pm Saturday: Woorabinda v Gladstone Brothers, Baralaba

6pm Saturday: Tannum Sands v Emu Park, Tannum Sands

7pm Saturday: Biloela v Gladstone Valleys, Biloela

3pm Sunday: Yeppoon v Norths Chargers, Webb Oval

3pm Sunday: Fitzroy- Gracemere v Rockhampton Brothers, Browne Park

Who do you think will win this year's competition?



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