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Queensland Rugby Union today announced the Bond University Queensland Country squad and coaching staff for the 2018 National Rugby Championship (NRC), ahead of this weekend’s Queensland Premier Rugby semi-finals.
The 36-man squad features 19 current St.George Queensland Reds, many of whom have progressed from the 2017 Queensland Country Championship squad to make their Reds and Super Rugby debuts in 2018, including Teti Tela and Angus Blyth, who both made their debuts against the Sunwolves in the Reds final match of the season.
The remaining 17 players have been drawn from Queensland Premier Rugby. With University of Queensland, GPS, Easts and Souths set to compete in the semi-finals this weekend, a total of 17 players from the squad will be in action from across the four clubs.
The three nominated Wallabies who will be part of the squad include Taniela Tupou, Izack Rodda and Caleb Timu, all of whom have progressed from the Queensland Country NRC pathway onto higher honours.
Eleven players from the 36-man squad trace their roots to country Queensland, with players including Harry Hoopert (Jondaryn), Duncan Paia’aua (Rockhampton) and Tate McDermott (Sunshine Coast) having progressed through Queensland Rugby’s pathway from regional schools and clubs.
In addition to the 36-man squad, 2018 Queensland Country Heelers players Jack Cook (hooker) and Will Gilbert (scrumhalf), both from the Goondiwindi Emus, have been invited to join the group as development players.
The side will be coached by Rod Seib, current Queensland Schoolboys head coach and Bond University Premier Grade assistant coach. Seib comes into the role with a wealth of experience, having spent many years as head coach at Sunnybank Rugby club, before forming part of the Brisbane City NRC program as both an assistant coach in 2014 and 2015, before becoming head coach in 2016.
Seib will be joined by former Fijian international and current Souths assistant coach Moses Rauluni and Reds Senior Video Analyst Michael Todd in the coaching staff.
“I’m really excited about this year’s National Rugby Championship and the group we’ve brought together,” said Seib.
“We have a lot of returning players from both the Reds and club Rugby, and a particularly exciting group of young players who performed well last year with many going on to represent the Reds in 2018. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ve improved with a season of Super Rugby under their belts.
“I’m also pleased to be able to reward and recognise club players who’ve been outstanding throughout the season, with a number of club players coming into the NRC fold for the first time.
“Considering we’re also taking matches to regions further north in Townsville and Mackay, it’s going to be an exciting year for the squad.”
Queensland Country will continue to take matches to regional Queensland in 2018, with matches to be played in Townsville, Mackay and the Gold Coast.
The NRC, which runs from September 1 to October 27, is a more streamlined competition than previous years with eight clubs - including a stand-alone Sydney franchise - now represented.
Country’s season begins with a Grand Final re-match against the Canberra Vikings at Viking Park in Canberra on Saturday, September 1, kicking off at 5:00pm.
The first home game for Country will see the side host the Melbourne Rising at Townsville’s Mike Carney Park on Sunday, September 9, at 3:00pm.
FOX SPORTS is the only place to watch every game of the NRC with no ad-breaks during play. Two games per week will be broadcast on TV, with the remaining two games available to stream LIVE via foxsports.com.au/live and the FOX SPORTS App.
Head Coach: Rod Seib (Bond University)
Assistant Coach: Moses Rauluni (Souths)
Assistant Coach: Michael Todd (QRU / University of Queensland)
Strength and Conditioning Coach: Jono Roussetos (Brothers)
Team Manager: Nico Andrade (QRU)
Physiotherapist: Gina Nelson (QRU / Brothers)
Team Doctor: Gary Mitchell (Brothers)
Video Analyst: Tom Wainwright (QRU)
Media Manager: Brendan Hertel (QRU)
16 FEBRUARY 2019