NRC season preview: Queensland Country

NRC
by Myles Stedman

Despite a disappointing start to NRC life for Queensland Country, there is cause for optimism, with Brad Thorn handed the reins in 2017.

An assistant coach in Country’s one-win 2016, Thorn will know the task he faces in turning around the competition’s underachievers but with the talent he has at his disposal, 2017 could be a game changer.

With Thorn at the helm, the Country side should pack plenty of punch as it looks to live up to its potential.

SQUAD

Queensland Country squad

PROPS

Taniela Tupou should be in for another big NRC campaign. Photo: Getty ImagesSef Fa'agase 26 Reds/University of Queensland Queensland Country Heelers (2009), ARU National Academy (2012), Reds A (2013-2014), Brisbane City NRC (2014), Queensland Reds (2015-), Queensland Country NRC (2015-2016), Wallaby XV (2016) Beaudesert Warriors Junior, Gold Coast Breakers, Queensland Country Heelers representative

Richie Asiata 21 Easts Queensland Schoolboys (2013, 2014), Australian Schoolboys (2014), Queensland U20s (2016), Australian U20s (2016), Queensland Country NRC (2016), Queensland Premier Rugby President’s XV (2017)

Taniela Tupou 21 Reds/Brothers Queensland Country NRC (2015-2016), Queensland U20s (2016), Queensland Reds (2016-), Wallabies development player (2016)

Kirwan Sanday 26 Reds/Easts Australian Barbarians (2014), Reds A (2014), Fiji Warriors, Queensland Country NRC (2014, 2016), Queensland Reds (2017)

Fred Burke 28 GPS Queensland Country NRC (2014, 2015), Crusaders Academy (2013), Canterbury ‘B’ ITM Cup (2012), Crusaders U21s (2010), Crusaders U20s (2009), Crusaders U19s (2008)

HOOKERS

Alex Mafi 20 Reds/Bond University Queensland Schoolboys (2012-2014), Australian Schoolboys (2013-2014), Queensland U20s (2015, 2016), Queensland Country NRC (2015, 2016), Queensland Reds (2017) Mount Isa, Gold Coast

Alex Casey 26 Souths Queensland U15s (2007), Queensland Schoolboys (2008), Brisbane City U19 team (2010), Brisbane City NRC (2015) Queensland Country NRC (2016), Queensland Premier Rugby President’s XV (2017)

Efi Ma'afu 19 Wests Queensland Schoolboys (2015), Australian Schoolboys (2015), Queensland U20s (2016, 2017), Australian U20s (2017)
Stephen Moore
(Wallabies allocated player) 34 Reds/University of Queensland Queensland Reds (2003-2008, 2017-), Australian Wallabies (2005-), Rugby World Cup (2007, 2011, 2015), Queensland Country (2016) From Rockhampton

LOCKS

Izack Rodda 20 Reds/Easts Queensland Schoolboys (2014), Australian Schoolboys (2014), Queensland U20s (2016), Australian U20s (2016), Queensland Country NRC (2016), Queensland Reds (2017-)

Rob Simmons 28 Reds/Sunnybank Queensland Schoolboys (2006), Australian Schoolboys (2006), Australian U19s (2007), Australian U20s (2008), Queensland (2009-), Australian Wallabies (2010-), Rugby World Cup (2011, 2015), Queensland Country (2016) From Theodore in Central Queensland

Philip Potgieter 22 University of Queensland Queensland Schoolboys (2012), Australian A Schoolboys (2012) Queensland U20s (2014-2015), Queensland Country (2015), Australian Barbarians (2015, 2016) From Toowoomba, went to high school at Toowoomba Grammar School, South Toowoomba Kookaburras Junior

Harry Hockings 18 University of Queensland Australian U20s (2017), Queensland U20s (2017), Queensland Schoolboys (2015), From Bowen, Northern Queensland.

BACKROW

Angus Scott-Young 20 University of Queensland Queensland U16s (2013), Queensland U20s (2015, 2016, 2017), Australian U20s (2016, 2017), Queensland Country NRC (2016)

Liam Wright 19 Easts Queensland U20s (2016, 2017), Australian U20s (2016, 2017), Queensland Country NRC (2016)

Caleb Timu 23 Reds/Souths Queensland U16s (2010), Queensland Schoolboys (2011), Australian Schoolboys (2011), Broncos U20s (2013), Queensland Reds (2016-)

Ted Postal 26 Brothers Queensland U16s (2007), Queensland Schoolboys (2008-2009), Australian Schoolboys (2009), Australian U20s (2011), Western Force (2011), Narbonne (2013-2015), Queensland Country NRC (2016) Originally from Townsville

Fraser McReight 18 Brothers Australian Schoolboys (2016), Queensland Schoolboys (2016), Queensland Sevens (2016), Queensland U20s (2017) Originally from the Sunshine Coast

Tainui Ford 26 Bond University Waikato U16s, Queensland Premier Rugby President’s XV (2017) Gold Coast

Tyrone Pritchard 21 Easts Emerald Rams, NQ Cowboys U20s Emerald Rams in Central Highlands competition

SCRUMHALVES

James Tuttle 21 Reds/GPS Queensland U20s (2014- 2016), Australian U20s (2015, 2016), Queensland Schoolboys (2013), Queensland Country (2014-), Queensland Reds (2015-)

Tate McDermott 18 University of Queensland Queensland U20s squad (2017), Australian Sevens (2017), Queensland Premier Rugby President’s XV (2017) Born in Bundaberg, grew up on the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore Swans junior, Sunshine Coast Grammar First XV

Scott Malolua 24 Souths, Queensland Country NRC (2015-)

FLYHALVES

Hamish Stewart 19 Bond University Queensland Schoolboys (2015), Australian Schoolboys Barbarians (2015), Queensland U20s (2017), Australian U20s (2017), Queensland Reds (2017-) From Toowoomba, attended high school at Toowoomba Grammar School, Toowoomba Bears Junior

Teti Tela 26 Souths Queensland Country (2015)

CENTRES

Duncan Paia'aua 22 Reds/Norths Queensland U16s (2011), Broncos U20s (2013-2014), Queensland U20s (2015), Australian U20s (2015), Queensland Reds (2015-), Queensland Country NRC (2014,2015, 2016) Central Queensland

Patrick James 22 Brothers Queensland U20s (2014-2015), Brisbane City NRC (2015, 2016), Queensland Premier Rugby President’s XV (2017)

Conor Chittenden 24 Norths Queensland Premier Rugby President’s XV (2017)

OUTSIDE BACKS

Campbell Magnay 20 Reds/GPS Queensland Schoolboys (2013), Australian Schoolboys (2013), Queensland Country NRC (2014-), Queensland Reds (2015-), Queensland U20s (2015, 2016), Australian U20s (2015, 2016)

Izaia Perese 20 Reds/Easts Queensland U16s (2013), Queensland Schoolboys (2014), Australian Schoolboys (2014), Queensland U20s (2015), Reds Elite Development Squad (2015), Queensland Country NRC (2015-), Wallabies development player (2016), Queensland Reds (2016-), Australian U20s (2017)

Eto Nabuli (Wallabies allocated player) 29 Reds/GPS Penrith Panthers (2014), St.George Dragons (2015), Fiji Rugby League (2014, 2015), Queensland Reds (2016-), Queensland Country NRC (2016)

Jock Campbell University of Queensland

Filipo Daugunu 22 Wests

Byron Hutchinson 27 Wests Perth Spirit (2015-2016)

Veresa Mataitini 26 Norths Queensland A (2013), Queensland Premier Rugby President’s XV (2017)

WHAT HAPPENED LAST SEASON?

A third consecutive eighth-place finish, their third in a row, meant Queensland Country again fell short of finals.

A one-win season was their worst on record and though they had their highest season points tally of 248 points, the record 346 they conceded proved the more significant number.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER?

Duncan Paia'aua will be critical to Country success. Photo: Getty ImagesDuncan Paia’aua was recently named captain by Thorn and will almost certainly be Queensland Country’s most important player if they want to make their mark this season.

Given the attacking nature of the competition, having a playmaker with Super Rugby experience at inside centre will be invaluable for Country.

2015 and ‘16 captain James Tuttle will also be important in attack but Paia’aua’s ability to make plays from second receiver and beat the first defender, will be key to Country’s attack in 2017.

THE BOLTER

Flyhalf Hamish Stewart won five caps off the bench for the Queensland Reds this year, marking himself as one to watch for the future.

Stewart starred for both the Queensland and Australian U20s this year and has stood out as a savvy first five with a high rugby IQ for his age, along with and a strong boot.

A big NRC showing for Country would put him squarely among the hottest young five eighth prospects in the country.

PREDICTION

Brad Thorn has already earned rave reviews for his leadership, described as demanding and direct.

With a star-studded squad, including an all-Reds front row of Sef Faagase, Alex Mafi and Taniela Tupou and a backline with Duncan Paiaaaua, Hamish Stewart, James Tuttle and Eto Nabuli, this list has the capability to lift Country out of the competition cellar.

Throw in the potential of appearances from recent Wallabies debutant Izack Rodda and this Queensland Country team should be making waves.

Defence has been their biggest roadblock in recent years but if they can stop leaking so many points, they’ll push for finals.

Join the discussion

Advertisement