As we count down the days until Round 1 of the Wagners Risdon Cup, we take a look into how each club is shaping up in preparation for their 2018 campaigns.
2017 - Premiers
Back to Back. As reigning premiers, the Wheatmen will have a target on their back from the get go which will no doubt drive the Wheatmen to get the season off to a flying start. Dalby have gone back to back 3 times in the Risdon Cup history, but only once have they won three premierships in a row (1966 and 1968). History shows the club is capable of shaking a Risdon Cup hangover, so can they repeat history again 50 years on and go 3 in a row?
Dalby will have a strong and dynamic forward pack with the likes of Sam Hogarth (2017 Mal Eiby Medallist) one of the most dangerous forwards in the competition. They will have a great mix of youth and experience, with Hugh Brosnan one of the competitions rising stars mixing in with dual premiership players in a relatively unchanged squad from 2017.
No doubt the Wheatmen will be very tough to beat in 2017, however they will have a number of very hungry clubs to contend with and will need to maintain their very best if they are to complete their hat-trick.
2017 - Runners Up
Goondiwindi will be hoping for third time lucky this year, after being runners up two years in a row. One of the powerhouse clubs in the Risdon Cup for a long time, the Emus will be hungry to add to their 13 Risdon Cup tally more than any other club, and will no doubt be strong again in 2018. Last season’s campaign fell a heart breaking 5 points short of the premiership, so the Emus will be determined to go the extra mile when they kick their season off against USQ.
The side is full of gifted and experienced players with a number of leaders throughout the side. The Emu’s will be looking for the power of the Tweedy Brothers, Lachlan Tulloch and Levi Power in the forwards to assert their dominance this season. They also have one of the most dangerous backlines in the competition with QLD Country representatives Will Gilbert, Michael Jamieson and Harry Hawker floating across a number of positions from 9-15.
The Emus welcome new A Grade coach Luke Fritz into the fold, shifting from the player/coach model of 2016/2017, who is tasked with leading a side that has a proud history and is built on tradition. Expect to see a very motivated group donning the gold jersey in 2018.
2017 - Semi-Finalist
After falling short of the big dance two years in a row Rangers will be desired to go one game further this season after another painful elimination final loss to Dalby last year.
Rangers have welcomed Tom Crockett as head coach in 2018, which is a great inclusion for the club. Tom has a wealth of experience and was part of the Rangers 2014 Risdon Cup premiers side. Whilst he knows how to win as a player, Rangers will be hoping he can take the Bulls one step further this season.
It will be a changing of the guard so to speak at Gold Park this year, with a number of retirements at the end of 2017. Expect to see a very young and spirited Rangers team this season. This youth may just bring them the energy they need to bring home ‘Riso’ in that first weekend of September.
2017 - Semi-Finalist
The Cods are swimming their way up the ladder after going one better in 2017 than they did in 2016. The Cods have found some good fortune this preseason with the large amount of rainfall lately the farmers have been washed down stream to the Fish Tank which has been capturing healthy numbers for their 2018 season. The culture is strong at the Fish Tank and is only continuing to get stronger.
Cods have added a good mix of young fellas to their club who will be honing the core of the older boys. The Cods will be following in the footsteps of strong leaders Roger Geldard (C) and Sonny Power (VC) and hoping the young ones can step up in attack and defence. They will be welcoming David Keys and James Guest back from a year off last year who should add a wealth of experience to the Club.
The Cods will be wary of Roma in Round 1 but will be looking to kick their 20th season off to a flyer. With many big celebrations planned for their 20th anniversary year, expect to see plenty of spirit among the cods this season. It would be somewhat of a fairy-tale to win their first Risdon Cup in their 20th year, and this might well be the motivation they need.
2017 - Qualifying-Finalist
The Toowoomba Bears will field a new look A Grade side to battle it out for the Risdon Cup this year. The team has lost a lot of experience from the last few years but have been reinforced with some experienced colts. Look out for brothers Tom and Robb Taylor who will be a dynamic duo for the Bears this year. Tom coming out of a 1ST XV Premiership winning side will look to bring his success and youthful knowledge to the Bears this year.
But will this youthful side have enough experience to bring great success to the Bears this Risdon Cup?
The Bears will get a good look of where they’ll need to be at facing the reigning premiers in round 1 at Dalby.
2017 - 6th
Going undefeated until Round 8 last year USQ will looking to finish the season off and not be struck down by injuries that de-railed their 2017 campaign. Fielding 3 teams in the comp again this year they should be able to find some depth and have plenty of competition for spots. They will be a committed team and should be capable of fielding a strong, youthful side.
It will be another year that the other clubs should be weary of these underdogs and shouldn’t be surprised to see them move up the ladder this year and play finals footy. Darling Downs and Queensland Country Representative, Angus Ramsey, will be the play maker of this team to direct the well experienced back line into action which has the potential to be one of the most dangerous in the comp.
With the support of the President and veteran A Grade Coach, Gary Briscoe, roping this side into action and preparing them for the quickly approaching season is at the forefront of his to do list. USQ will have a tough task on their hand as they host the Emus in Round 1, a well-rounded team of youth and experience with brute strength and an exhilarating back line.
USQ are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year so there will be plenty for this side to play for this season. Can the romance of their 50th year spur them on to a Risdon Cup?
Gatton Black Pigs
2017 - 7th
The Black Pigs will be dangerous again in the 2018 Wagners Risdon Cup and will always show pride in what the Lockyer Valley can produce. The Blackpigs have decided to field just an A grade side this season which will allow for a greater focus on their A grade performances.
Numbers and interest has been strong throughout the preseason with Brisbane Premier Grade player James Mccoll running trainings throughout the week. Although there has been a large turnover from the 2017 side, plenty of fresh, enthusiastic faces have come into the 2018 squad forming a new-look Blackpigs.
The Blackpigs will be led by skipper Mitch Waters throughout the 2018 Campaign, who is excited about two new second rowers who are very mobile. Thomas Barnwell, who is returning after a season off, and young Sam Coffison, fresh out of school from Charters Towers. Both will be important gains for the pigs’ forward pack in 2018.
We will have to wait until round 2 to see this new look side as they travel up the hill to play a young Bears outfit.
2016 - 8th
After several years without a finals berth, Roma will be looking to get back into the winner’s circles in 2018. The club will welcome Rob Nowlan, former Australia Schoolboys coach, to their head coaches role which is a great inclusion for the club.
They have expanded to have a second side in 2018, which will hopefully give them the depth of talent and numbers they need to rise-up the ladder this year.
The road trip to Roma is one of the toughest in the competition, and they will no doubt be tough to beat at home, however the Echidnas will need to improve their form on the road if they wish to break into the finals in 2018.
2017 - 9th
After a difficult first ever season in the A grade competition, the Redbacks will be looking to learn from last season as they seek to improve their gameplay this year. Coach Cameron Donaldson said the side found it tough going last year competing in the high level of competition in the Risdon Cup. The Redbacks have grown to welcome a C Grade this year, and this depth will allow the Redbacks to have better depth in their 2018 campaign.
Don’t expect dramatic changes this year but the side will be hoping to secure a couple of gritty wins this year. With a focus on recruitment in the off season, the side has added youth and experience to the squad. This has brought energy and enthusiasm to a club that still is starting off.
Their first test will be a big one as they face Rangers at Gold Park, and the Redbacks will certainly be wanting to hit the ground running against their cross-town competitors.