Record 133 teams to contest touch carnival in Rocky
TOUCH: Newly named Australian representative Blake Moore will lead the Care Bears in their quest for back-to-back victories at the Red Rooster Junior Carnival this weekend.
A record 133 teams will play more than 300 games over the course of the two-day event at the Cyril Connell Touch Fields in Rockhampton.
The annual carnival has been running for more than 10 years and is now recognised as one of the biggest junior touch events in regional Australia.
Rockhampton Touch Association administrator Denise Edwards said teams from the host city, the Capricorn Coast, Mackay, Gladstone, Blackwater, Emerald, Dalby and Tambo would take part.
"The carnival just gets bigger every year and nominations are up by about nine teams on last year,” she said.
"We'll have more than 1500 players taking part and we expect at least double that number in spectators.
"We will be using 12 fields and there will be non-stop action over the weekend.”
Boys and girls teams will compete in under-10, 12, 14 and 17 years age groups, with games from 8.30am on Saturday and Sunday.
Edwards said there would be some great young touch talent on show across all divisions and she was expecting another strong showing from Rockhampton's Care Bears.
Team captain Moore said he and his teammates were keen to repeat their winning form of last year.
"We're looking pretty good and have a strong team again this year,” he said.
"We're hoping to go back-to-back but we know there will be plenty of strong competition so we'll see how it goes.”
Moore, who was recently named in the Australian 17 years boys touch squad, has played in the Red Rooster Junior Carnival since he was nine years old.
"It's always a good fun carnival to end the year,” he said.
"Our team basically got together about three years ago and we've just stuck together since.
Moore said he was still coming to terms with his maiden national selection, which will see him compete in the Youth Trans-Tasman Series in New Zealand in January.
"I'm still a bit overwhelmed by it. It hasn't really sunk in yet.
"It's definitely a dream come true to make an Australian team.”
In other touch news, Rockhampton and Gladstone shared the spoils at the CQ Challenge played on the Capricorn Coast at the weekend.
Rockhampton won the T League men and the Masters men, while Gladstone took the honours in the T League women and over-27 women.
Carnival co-ordinator Tracy Upton said 19 teams from Rockhampton, Gladstone, the Cap Coast and Emerald took part in the event, which is set to become a regular fixture on the region's touch calendar.
"It was a very, very good day and there was plenty of talent on show,” Upton said.
"We had a lot of exceptional young players and some older faces, including former Australian player Blair Harling of Emerald.”
The CQ Challenge doubled as a selection trial for the CQ men's and women's squads to compete at the National Touch League in March next year at Coffs Harbour.
The NTL is a competition which sits under the prestigious Elite Eights and teams can have six players aged over 20 in their ranks.
Upton said there was enough player depth to select two CQ men's squads.
"We were runners-up this year in the men's division and next year we're looking to go one better,” she said.
"The women made the quarters this year and will be aiming for nothing less than a semi-final appearance next year.”