CQ Legends Give Back To Their Game
March 11th, 2013
Recently some mates and I were discussing the upcoming 2013 NRL season and we got around to talking about the Rugby League champions who have originated from CQ. We noted how many have chosen to return and live here when their NRL careers are over.
We started to list them when I observed that with my work at the CQ NRL Bid and with the Intrust Super Queensland Cup, I encounter many of these former great players regularly. I come across them because they are actively involved in Rugby League in their communities at all levels of the game.
Central Highlands have three of the most approachable ex-players in former Queensland Origin stars PJ Marsh, Alan McIndoe and Steve Bell. All three of these players are involved in the many Central Highlands Rugby League programs from junior club, senior club and CH rep football. No wonder the game is alive and well in the Central Highlands. I was in Moranbah last weekend to attend a Men of League function and the CQ Capras versus Moranbah Miners game. I saw the former Cowboys and Maroons player, Josh Hannay coaching the Miners A grade as well as running the water in the under 18s game. He still looks fit enough to play at any level and from what I saw; Josh really is enjoying his participation.
The Men of League chapter in Mackay is chaired by former Manly great, Owen Cunningham who is also coaching the Cutters Cyril Connell team. Former Raiders players Steve Jackson coaches juniors and Clinton Schifcofske is a player manager specialising in the juniors.
Sid Domic was a fast and elusive centre when he played NRL and today he pops up in most things involving Rugby League in Bundaberg from schoolboy football, junior club and senior coaching roles. I have a high opinion of Sid’s coaching ability and admire his dedication to the local Rugby League community.
Gladstone is privileged to be the current home for former New Zealand player of the century, Mark Graham, who along with Maroons legend Gary Larson and NRL Grand Finalist Tony Martin, are all still involved in most aspects of the game in the “boom” city.
The Rockhampton Junior Rugby League and schoolboy football are models for all regional cities to replicate. These competitions continue to grow and improve. Former NRL player Justin Loomans has launched a new junior club and is very involved with Indigenous participation in our game. League legend, Matt Sing has worked away for much of his return to CQ but is always available to me to help grow the game through the Bid or in any way he can assist with personal advice to aspiring players and their families.
The CQ Capras are in the “rebuilding” phase but the Head Coach and former Origin and Kangaroos great, Jason Hetherington’s honest dedication to the game will serve this foundation club well. Jason is assistant coach to the great Mal Meninga in the Maroons State of Origin team.
Most of the aforementioned former NRL players are also mentors to scholarship holders in the CQ NRL Bid Scholarship program, where they mentor potential NRL players of the future. They all “put back” and that’s what’s great about the culture of Rugby League in Central Queensland.