DESPITE running into the 2011 Battle of the Mines carnival as defending title holders, Callide-Dawson coach Graham Middlebrook said the competition is anyone's for the taking this year.
"We're pretty serious," Middlebrook joked. "But really it's a bit of fun.
"We're missing quite a few players from last year but we're travelling okay.
"We're just big kids. As long we come away with a smile on our face, I'll be happy."
The Battle of the Mines concept challenges rugby league sides from mine sites around Central Queensland under the masters rule system in a knockout-style competition.
Under the rules, players wear different coloured shorts according to their age and are allowed varying levels of contact from opposition players. Players wearing gold shorts for example must be touch-tackled only.
In just its second year running in the Central Highlands, the competition has grown from five teams to seven with hopes to continue the growth in the coming seasons.
"The maximum we could probably get is 16 teams using two fields," carnival coordinator Andrew Lawrence said.
"But anything is possible."
Callide player Wayne Heid would know this more than most, who at 54 years of age will run out at full contact, without any restrictions.
Coach Middlebrook, who will be pulling on the boots himself this year, said while back-to-back titles would be nice, it's not something they were purely focused on.
"We were just fortunate enough last year the scoreline fell in our favour.
"Really it's just about getting out there with a few mates, playing some footy and raising some money for charity."
The carnival is also attracting a number of former NRL stars who reside in the Highlands, including PJ Marsh and possibly Steve Bell.
Middlebrook said their inclusion will only add to spectacle. "I hope they do play, it's good for the game," he said.
"It's those sorts of players that people come to watch."
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