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Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) today announced the Bond University Queensland Country squad ahead of the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC).
The squad features 25 players with Country Queensland backgrounds, including six players who have represented the Queensland Country Heelers at a grassroots level.
A total of 16 players from BLK Queensland Premier Rugby and Queensland country Rugby have been selected, alongside 15 St.George Queensland Reds players with Super Rugby experience, including capped Wallabies Anthony & Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper, Rob Simmons and Chris Feauai-Sautia.
Former Reds and Wallabies Number 8 Radike Samo will also feature in Queensland Country, after returning to Brisbane during the tail end of the Premier Rugby season to play for GPS.
A wider training squad has also been named, to assist with the further development of players within Queensland Rugby’s pathway.
Anthony Fainga’a, who captained the inaugural Queensland Country side last year, will lead the side in 2015. He will be joined by Ed Quirk, James Tuttle, Haydn Hirsimaki and James Turner to form the side’s leadership group.
Current Australian Under-20s head coach Adrian Thompson and Anthony Connellan from Easts Rugby Club have been named as head coach Jason Gilmore’s assistants for the 2015 NRC season.
With training for the Country side beginning this week, Gilmore said he was excited to get underway with preparations for the 2015 season.
“We’ve put together a strong squad heading into the second NRC season,” Gilmore said.
“We have a good balance of Reds players and some of the best talent from Queensland Premier and country Rugby.”
“We also have a total of 20 returning players from the 2014 squad so it will be beneficial to have those existing players to assist with the transition of new players into Queensland Country.
“We do have a number of new faces in the squad this season but they have a lot to offer and the opportunity to represent Country could potentially launch their professional careers.
“The assistant coaches we have named bring a wealth of experience to the side. It is also great to have Anthony Fainga’a returning as captain.
“The NRC also forms an important part of the Reds’ 2016 Super Rugby preparations.”
Anthony Fainga’a said he was looking forward to leading the 2015 Country side.
“While results didn’t always go our way in 2014, we began to create a culture for the Queensland Country side and I’m looking forward to building on that this year,” Anthony Fainga’a said.
“It’s important for us to represent the Rugby community in country Queensland and we’re looking forward to once again playing games in regional areas.”
QRU last year announced it would field two teams in the NRC as an important piece in its talent identification, recruitment and development – as part of its pathway and high-performance strategy.
Now entering its second year, the NRC is a domestic Rugby competition featuring nine teams. It has been designed to give players another link in their development pathway towards Super Rugby and ultimately Wallabies selection. Following the 2014 season, 11 Queensland NRC players received Elite Development Squad contracts with the Reds for the 2015 Super Rugby season.
Queensland Country will play all four of its 2015 home games in regional areas of Queensland, beginning their season against the Melbourne Rising at Bond University on Gold Coast, as well as playing Perth Spirit at Rugby Park in Rockhampton and the University of Canberra Vikings at Sunshine Coast Stadium on the Sunshine Coast.
2015 also marks the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the Queensland Country Rugby Union, and the occasion will be celebrated when Queensland Country host Brisbane City in Toowoomba on Sunday, 6 September.
Tickets are now on sale for all Queensland-based NRC matches at www.redsrugby.com.au. QRU has introduced a new ticket offer for the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC), with registered junior club participants under the age of 16 given free entry to any Queensland-based NRC game when accompanied by a paying adult.
Tickets start at just $5 for juniors, $10 for concession and $15 for adults when purchased online prior to the match.
2015 Queensland Country Squad
*Denotes returning player
Combined Country (2013), Reds A (2014), Queensland Country Heelers, Australian Barbarians (2014), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Nambour Toads Club Rugby, Sunshine Coast Stingrays Premier Rugby, Queensland Country Heelers, Combined Country v British & Irish Lions (2013)
Reds/University of Queensland
ARU National Academy, Brisbane City NRC (2014), Reds, Reds A
Queensland Country U19 representative
Tongan u14s, Pacific Barbarians, Reds Wider Training Squad
Reds (2005-), Australia U21 (2004), Australia A (2005), Wallabies (2005-), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Originally from Allora (Darling Downs), Downlands College Student (Toowoomba)
U19 Queensland Country (2011)
Queensland Country Heelers (2014-2015), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Queensland Country Heelers representative, Townsville Brothers Rugby Club
Reds (2010-), Australian Schoolboys (2007), Australian U20s (2009), Australia A (2010), Wallabies (2010-)
Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast Rugby Junior, Bond University Premier Rugby (Gold Coast), The Southport School
Australian Schoolboys (2003-2004), Australian Under 19s (2006), Brumbies (2007-2008), Reds (2009-), Wallabies (2010-), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Queensland Schoolboys (2012-2014), Australian Schoolboys (2013-2014)
Bond University Premier Rugby (Gold Coast)
University of Queensland
Queensland Schoolboys (2009,2010), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Queensland Country (2014), Australian Schoolboys (2011), Queensland Schoolboys (2011)
Combined States U20s (2014),NSW U20s (2015), Australian U20s (2015)
Bond University Premier Rugby (Gold Coast), born and raised in Murwillumbah
Queensland Schoolboys (2012) Australia A Schoolboys (2012) Reds U20's (2014-2015)
Toowoomba Grammar School, Darling Downs Rugby junior
Queensland Under 19's (2007), Queensland (2009/2010)
Bond University Premier Rugby (Gold Coast), Gold Coast Club Rugby
Reds (2009-), Queensland Schoolboys (2006), Australian Schoolboys (2006), Australian U19s (2007), Australian U20s (2008), Wallabies (2010-)
Raised in Theodore, Central Queensland
Queensland Schoolboys (2011-2012), Australian Schoolboys (2012), Queensland Sevens (2015)
Gold Coast Rugby junior
Australian Sevens (2011), L'Aquila rugby Italy 2013, Reds A (2014), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Far North Queensland (Cairns) Rugby junior
Queensland Schoolboys (2011)
Sunshine Coast Rugby junior
Reds (2010-), Australian Schoolboys (2008), Australian Sevens (2009-2010), Australian Under 20 (2010-2011)
Fiji U19s, Brumbies (2000-2006), Reds (2010-2013), Melbourne Rebels (2015), Wallabies (2004, 2011-2012)
Reds (2015-), Australian U20s (2014-2015), Reds U20s (2014-2015), Reds A (2014), Australian Schoolboys (2012-2013), Queensland Schoolboys (2012-2013), Queensland U16s (2011)
Central Queensland Rugby (Emerald) junior, Represented Central Queensland at junior State Championships (2011)
Reds (2014-), Reds A (2014), Reds U20s (2014), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Reds U20s, Australian U20s, Queensland Schoolboys. Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Queensland Schoolboys (2014), Australian Schoolboys (2014), Queensland Country U20s (2015), Combined States U20s (2015), Australian U20s (2015)
Bond University Premier Rugby (Gold Coast), Queensland Country U20s representative
Queensland U16s (2011), Queensland Schoolboys (2012), Australian Schoolboys (2012), Queensland Colt of the Year in 2013, Brisbane City NRC (2014), Reds (2015-)
Queensland Schoolboys (2008-2009), Australian Schoolboys (2009), Australian U21s (2011), Reds A (2013), San Dona (2013)
Reds (2015-), Queensland U16s, Broncos U20s (2013-2014), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Rockhampton Rugby Junior
Queensland U15s, U16s, Combined Secondary Schools (2011)
Darling Downs Rugby junior, Downlands College (Toowoomba)
Reds Elite Development Squad (2015), Reds U20s (2015), Australian Schoolboys (2014), Queensland Schoolboys (2014), Queensland Under 16s (2013)
Reds (2009-), Brumbies (2007-2008)Australian Schoolboys (2004), Australian Under 19s (2006), Australian Under 21s (2006), Australian Sevens (2007), Australian Wallabies (2010-), Rugby World Cup (2011), Queensland (2009-), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Reds (2014-), Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Reds Under-20s (2014), Queensland Schoolboys (2011-2012)
Australian Schoolboys (2009-2011), Australian Under 20s (2012), Australian Wallabies (2013-)
Stephen Van Der Walt
Queensland Country Heelers
Sunshine Coast Stingrays Premier Rugby, Queensland Country Heelers
Bay of Plenty Steamers ITM Cup (2013-2015), Queensland Country Heelers (2009-2010)
Sunshine Coast Rugby Junior, Mountain Creek State High, Maroochydore Swans club Rugby, Sunshine Coast Stingrays Premier Rugby, Queensland Country Heelers U19s and Opens
Queensland Schoolboys (2013), Australian Schoolboys (2013), Australian Under-20s (2015), Queensland Country NRC (2014), Reds (2015-)
WIDER TRAINING SQUAD
Queensland Country NRC (2014), Crusaders Academy (2013), Canterbury 'B' ITM Cup (2012), Crusaders U21s (2010), Crusaders U20s (2009), Crusaders U19s (2008)
Australian U20s (2015), Reds Under 20s (2015), Australian Schoolboys (2013), Queensland Schoolboys (2013)
Raised in St.George (Darling Downs)
Queensland Academy of Sport U19s (2007)
Counties Manukau U20s (2005)
Bond University Premier Rugby (Gold Coast)
Queensland Country NRC (2014)
Born in Townsville
University of Queensland
Queensland Schoolboys, Manawatu Turbos, Northland Taniwhas, Samoa
Previously played for the Bowen Mudcrabs
Cook Islands (2015)
Former Gold Coast Breakers / Bond University player
Queensland Schoolboys (2010), Australian Schoolboys (2010)
Australian U20s (2012)
2015 Queensland Country Staff
Head Coach: Jason Gilmore
Assistant Coaches (Defence): Adrian Thompson
Assistant Coach (Forwards): Anthony Connellan
Athletic Performance Coach: Sean Yoshiura
Team Manager: Matt Kaye
Analyst: Tom Barker
Team Doctor: Dr. Chris Thomas
Physiotherapist: Andrew Plastow
Player Development Manager: Matt Smith
Media Manager: Brendan Hertel
23 JANUARY 2019