SATURDAY’S Multicultural Rugby League Knockout in Bluff was more than just a carnival. For Woorabinda Rugby League it was the dawn of a new era.
After nearly of decade of being off the map and relatively unknown in senior league circles, the club has staged a remarkable recovery to return to Central Queensland rugby league in 2011 with Gladstone’s A-Grade competition.
The Bluff knock-out carnival served the Woorabinda club not only an opportunity to take out an early pre-season victory, but it also allowed selectors to decide who was worthy for inclusion in their 25 man squad for round one against Biloela.
“We’ve got 80 blokes all vying for spots in the team,” captain of Woorabinda team one Anthony Munns said.
The passion and drive for the year ahead was as bright as the light of day in the Woorabinda captain, despite an exhausting first hit-out of the Bluff carnival against Blackwater.
“I’m buggered now,” he gasped.
“But it’s only a trial and we’ve still got a few more to go and we can only get better.”
Previously any participation in senior league grades meant many hours on the road for the Woorabinda players involved.
“I’ve been travelling into Rockhampton to play for 10 or 12 years… we wouldn’t usually get home till 12am or 1am after footy,” Munns said.
Of greater importance for him was the enormous benefit rugby league will have for the local population, with two home games already scheduled.
“It’s good for our kids at home and the elders,” Munns explained.
“It’s good publicity for the community because a lot of negative stuff comes out of there and all we want to do is play footy.”
The Woorabinda Kangaroos certainly have the credentials to back them up, breezing through the Rockhampton reserve grade competition virtually undefeated last time they played, according to Munns.
If everything goes according to plan he hopes next year they might be able to field a reserve grade side in the Gladstone competition as well. In the meantime players and officials will need to focus on a long, and no doubt tough, season ahead, with no-one more aware of this than Woorabinda’s A-Grade coach Leroy Wilson.
“We’ve got to see who gets to training, that’s the main thing,” he said.
“We want to have one strong Woorabinda side this year, we’re trying to get the team united – it’s a strategy for the whole community. We want to do well and Gladstone is keen to see us do well.”
The involvement doesn’t stop after they pack away the boots either, with the player’s education just as important to coach Wilson as the training drills on the football field.
“If they don’t turn up to school then they don’t get on the bus for footy – it’s great motivation,” he said.
Woorabinda gained selection in the Gladstone competition after unsuccessfully applying in the Central Highlands league late last year.
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