Around 110 young footy players and their support crews are descending on Tenterfield this weekend as Rugby League Park hosts the annual Zone 5 Under 12/Under 43kg Junior Rugby League Carnival.
Tenterfield Junior Rugby League has eight local Tigers in the Macintyre team, which represents this area. They are Jayden Swan, Jakeb Gibbins, Tobi Leiberman, Fletcher Koch, Jackson O’Neill, Coby Roots, Bonnie Zappa and late entry Gerry McGrady. (Gerry is stepping up for Braith Clarke who’s busy at a state training camp.)
Tobi, Fletcher and Jackson played in the same carnival last year in Lightning Ridge, and team manager Keven Mooney said they will bring that experience with them.
“The experience makes a huge difference. We always try to select a few 11-year-olds so we have that experience for the following year.”
The four boys are now 12 but still meet the 43 kg weight restriction.
Mooney said the Macintyre team did well last year, leading the competition until the second-last game where they lost by one goal, 4-6.
Macintyre has already had a trial match against Warwick but were beaten, although not badly, Mooney said. Several key players were missing and it was a good opportunity to give the team a run.
Sunday’s weigh-in is from 2-4pm for all players (after which local food outlets may see a surge in business). State of Origin legend Billy Moore is slated to make an appearance, and to attend the official dinner at the Tenterfield Golf Club on Monday night.
Macintyre will play two games on both Monday and Tuesday. There are no fixtures on Wednesday but there is a sports day of relays, tug-of-war and the like for half the day, with the remainder free for visiting families to play tourist.
There are another two games on Thursday and one more on Friday morning (9am), before those selected compete in a City vs Country match at 12.30pm followed by trophy presentations at 1.30pm. Mooney said the carnival winners are determined by a points system, so there are no play-offs at the end.
Other rep teams involved in the carnival are South Burnett, Western Downs, Wynnum, Cunnamulla, Balonne Barwon, Central Downs, and Warwick and Southern Downs.
It all happens at Rugby League Park on the main field, with each match having 20-minute halves. Mooney hopes the Tenterfield community will turn out to cheer on the local players and to enjoy the carnival atmosphere.
Mooney said it will be a good economic boost for the town, with 1500-2000 people expected to be involved. With many of the families coming from urban areas Mooney said Tenterfield’s rural appeal will be a draw.
The competition has a long and illustrious history having run for 52 years now, with Macintyre participating in the last 13 (making runner-up on four of those occasions.) This is the second time that Tenterfield has hosted, the first time eight years’ ago.
Mooney also hopes to bring the under-35kg carnival to Tenterfield in the near future.