Former captains James Horwill, Peter Slattery and Elton Flatley will join the title-winning Queensland squad for next month’s Reds-to-Regions tour.
The Reds’ pre-season squad will scatter into 14 separate groups to reach 33 regional centres across Queensland to continue the highly-successful program.
Players will once again visit schools and rugby clubs, billet with families and dive into manual labour from fencing to farm work.
”It’s great Reds-to-Regions is back for a third time,” Reds head coach Brad Thorn said.
“We first did it in 2019. It was important for us to reconnect with regional Queensland communities. If you are going to play for your state, it’s important to know who you are playing for every time you wear that maroon jersey.
”Genuine connections were made in 2019 so we went back to towns a year later to show it wasn’t just a one-off.”
In 2019, strapping backrowers Harry Wilson and Liam Wright found themselves on fencing duties in 40 degree heat in parched Barcaldine. They loved it.
Wilson had farming pedigree from his Gunnedah roots. Wright was the pure city slicker doing his best. The hot-gospelling to connect the Reds’ top rugby players with the communities and country clubs they represent looked good on paper. It was even better in action as players ventured to regional hubs from Mt Isa to Mackay, Goondiwindi to Gladstone and Barcaldine to The Big Watermelon at Chinchilla.
Next month, the Reds will visit the Indigenous communities at Cherbourg, home for Queensland's Colt of the Year Floyd Aubrey, and Woorabinda as part of the sweep across the state.
Horwill, Reds’ skipper for their 2011 Super Rugby title triumph, has dived back into the Queensland rugby scene since returning from years of playing, studying and living in England.
”It’s a great opportunity to connect with the state of Queensland," Horwill said.
“It’s something we spoke about when we were playing. You’re based in south-east Queensland, and most of the guys are around that area, but you represent a whole state.
“It’s important to get out and see people in regional areas and also connect the current crop of players. It’s an exciting initiative and good to be a part of it.”
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Reds partners Santos, St George, Alliance Airlines and Belbaker Bus Charter are supporting the initiative.
Reds Memberships go on sale on Monday with full season and flexi-memberships available via reds.rugby.
Reds to Regions Towns and Centres
- Airlie Beach
- Charters Towers
- St George