Samartha's star on rise in rugby league circles
RUGBY LEAGUE: Samartha Leisha was named the women's best player at the recent Warba Wangarunya Rugby League Carnival in Rockhampton.
She will look to replicate that red-hot form when she leads the Woorabinda Warriors into action at next month's Schwarz Excavation Nines in Rockhampton.
The next engagement for the talented forward comes this weekend when she plays for the First Nation Gems against the New Zealand Maori Ferns in the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League clash at Sydney's Redfern Oval.
She will be joined by fellow Central Queensland sensation Sarah Field, who will also play in the Nines with Emu Park Emus Red.
The fourth edition of the scintillating Nines competition will be played on March 3 and 4 at Browne Park.
Twenty-eight teams will line up in first and second division men, women and under-20 divisions.
Organiser Walson Carlos said excitement was building in the lead-up to the popular carnival, which showcased some of the state's leading rugby league talent.
He said the Nines format always produced some razzle dazzle football and spectators could be guaranteed more of the same this time around.
Seven teams are currently registered for the Schwarz Excavation Nines men's first division, and Carlos is hoping for an eighth by the time nominations close on Friday.
Eight teams will compete in the Social and Digital Women's Challenge, eight in the Triple M men's second division and four in the NG Engraving Under-20 division.
The Yeppoon Seagulls have made the event their own. They are the only team to have lifted the first division men's trophy since the Nines started in 2015.
"The Yeppoon Seagulls are going for four on the trot which would be a phenomenal achievement but it would be a brave man to say they couldn't do it with the side they are putting together for this year's Nines,” Carlos said.
"The Emu Park Emus will go in strong favourites in the women's competition but they will get strong competition from Gladstone Wallabys, led by Australian player Chelsea Baker, and the Woorabinda Warriors captained by Samartha Leisha.”
Carlos applauded the QRL and Rockhampton Rugby League for their decision to allow composite teams to play this year.
"It has created a lot of interest with teams entering like the Gracemere Old Boys, the St Brendan's Old Boys and the CQ Dingoes, who are predominantly a rugby sevens side,” he said.
"I'm really looking forward to this year's carnival. There is sure to be some high-quality footy on show.”
Any team interested in filling the final spot in the men's first division can email info@juniorfooty academy.com.au
WHO'S PLAYING IN THE NINES
- Schwarz Excavations Men's 1st Division: Yeppoon Seagulls, Emu Park Emus, Woorabinda Warriors, Blackwater Crushers, CQ Dingoes, Blaas Connexion, Rocky All Stars
- Social and Digital Women's Challenge: Emu Park Emus Purple, Rockhampton Brothers, Blackwater Crushettes, Gladstone Wallabys, Valleys Diehards, Emu Park Emus Red, Woorabinda Warriors, Yeppoon Seagulls
- Triple M Men's 2nd Division: Fitzroy-Gracemere Sharks, Bluff Rabbitohs, St Brendan's College Old Boys, Gracemere Cubs Old Boys, Munige Stars, Norths Old Boys, Emu Park Emus, Woorabinda Warriors
- NG Engraving U20s: Norths, Emu Park Emus, Central Highlands, Woorabinda