LADIES and gents, hang onto your hats – the Queensland State of Origin side is coming to Emerald.
Kicking off on Wednesday, the mighty Maroons will take over Emerald’s Egerton St in a team parade starting at 11am, before attending a sellout lunch at the Emerald Town Hall.
Players and coaching staff will also attend a training session at McIndoe Park from 2.45pm, followed by autograph signings at 4.15pm.
Queensland Rugby League’s Capricorn regional co-ordinator Rob Crow said he hadn’t seen anything this big in Central Queensland for at least a decade.
“Rockhampton had a visit by the Queensland team about 10 years ago but certainly this is going to be pretty big for the region,” he said.
“I remember the training session they had up here was massive, they would have had 2000 to 3000 people come down for it.”
A big part of the motivation behind the Maroons visit was to “lift community spirits” after extensive flooding earlier this year.
Emerald, like many other areas across the state, experienced widespread destruction on an unprecedented scale.
The Queensland team could have
visited more populous regional centres for its fan day, but the Maroons chose Emerald for the side’s one and only stop before Origin Two.
Crow thought much of the decision why the Central Highlands was chosen was in acknowledgement that the south-east corner of the state wasn’t the only region affected by flood.
“The NRL clubs got around to visit a lot of the southern clubs when the flood recovery was just getting started but they didn’t really get as far up as us here in Central Queensland,” Crow said.
“So I guess it’s their way of giving something back to our region.”
For the juniors it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, Crow said.
“The kids are going to get a huge buzz out of seeing them in their own town.
“So often they see their idols, their stars, on television but now they will have the chance to see them up close and personal – see them in the flesh.”
Mayor Peter Maguire said the Queensland team visit was invaluable exposure, not just for Emerald, but the whole of the Central Highlands.
“To have what I believe is one of the leading rugby league teams in our region is fantastic,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity for all of us.”
As players will be on foot during the parade, traffic will be closed along Egerton St in Emerald for about 45 minutes.
There are no secrets behind Mayor Maguire’s tip for Origin Two, with the Queensland passion running thick and strong.
Crow however was more cautious and offered this appraisal for the fiercely contested interstate match-up:
“You know it’s going to be tough – New South Wales built up a fair bit of momentum in that last game but I think Queensland will rise to the challenge,” he said.
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