Caloundra’s Sami Vereniki will be among a cast of senior players soaking up all they can as rugby league returns following an 18-month gap. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Caloundra’s Sami Vereniki will be among a cast of senior players soaking up all they can as rugby league returns following an 18-month gap. Picture: Kevin Farmer

KICK OFF: All you need to know ahead of Coast league return

Footy fans and players will rejoice as senior rugby league finally makes its return to Coast fields following an 18-month wait on the sidelines.

Despite best efforts, Rugby League Sunshine Coast was forced to cancel last year's senior competitions as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

While Beerwah managed to slip into a Brisbane competition and still hit the field, the rest of the clubs were left to call it a year.

Having not played since August 2019, clubs will lace up to get their 2021 campaigns underway this weekend.

The Sunshine Coast Daily has compiled a snapshot of what the Division 1 season will entail below: 

DRAW

The draw is out with the first round to be played solely on Saturday this week out of respect for the Maroochydore Swans, who will gather to farewell player Dale Best.

The 34-year-old passed away last month after collapsing during a trial game against Kawana.

Reigning premiers Stanley River will meet Noosa at the Tewantin Sports Complex.

The Crushers will be at home for their match against Kawana.

The Gympie Devils and the Caboolture Snakes will go head-to-head at Jack Stokes oval.

And last year's Brisbane Rugby League Division 1 premiers Beerwah will host the Swans.

The Caloundra Sharks have the bye.

Kick off for all games will be at 5.30pm.

NOTABLE OUTS

Falcons Coach Sam Mawhinney confirmed none of the Falcons contracted players would run on the field in the local league this weekend as he didn't want any injuries ahead of next week's Queensland Cup start.

Stanley River Wolves players Will Toloi and Dalton Phillips have picked up contracts at the Falcons.

Dalton Phillips. Picture: Shane Myers NRL Photos
Dalton Phillips. Picture: Shane Myers NRL Photos

Stevie-Ray Haenga Albert from the Kawana Dolphins remains on a trial and train deal with the Queensland Cup side - so he'll be out of contention for at least round one.

The young hooker/half from New Zealand has made a big impression with the team.

Sharks senior player Ben Marshall.
Sharks senior player Ben Marshall.

Caloundra Sharks captain Ben Marshall suffered a devastating season-ending injury during the 9s tournament.

The hooker broke his jaw in two places in their last pool game prior to the final.

SEASON SNAPSHOT

Brad Kent and Bart Hold have returned to the Maroochydore Swans fold to link back with former skipper Josh Buckland.
Brad Kent and Bart Hold have returned to the Maroochydore Swans fold to link back with former skipper Josh Buckland.

MAROOCHYDORE

Venue: Wises Road, Maroochydore

Coach: Dennis Moore

Captain: Lachy Price

Key players: Lachy Price, Brad Kent and Rohan Messer

Coach's comment: "So far the build up has been OK. I'm very confident with where we're at. But, we're a little bit underdone because of the rain we've had plus some other issues with Dale (Best) dying so, we've had a bit of an interrupted pre-season. But, I'm happy with where we are at and where we will finish up.

2019 result: Eighth

Last premiership: 2018

Sami Vereniki of Caloundra Sharks against Oakey Bears in pre-season rugby league at Trevor Mickleborough Oval, Oakey. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Sami Vereniki of Caloundra Sharks against Oakey Bears in pre-season rugby league at Trevor Mickleborough Oval, Oakey. Picture: Kevin Farmer

CALOUNDRA

Venue: Gregory Street, Golden Beach

Coach: Leigh de Jersey

Captain: TBA - Former captain Ben Marshall out for season due to broken jaw

Key players: Semi Veriniki, Dylan Woods, Johnny Meuleners

Coach's comment: "It's my first year as senior coach. The biggest thing for us is a culture change and the fact we're playing for each other. It's 40 years since the first premiership and we're going to embrace the history of the club but moving forward we will be a lot more professional. We just finished a 12 week pre-season and had two good wins in our trials and followed that up by taking out the 9s tournament. We're just going as hard as we can and will try and win every game we possibly can."

2019 result: Wooden spoon

Last premiership: 2014

Caboolture’s Jake Tyler with the ball. Picture: Andrew Seymour
Caboolture’s Jake Tyler with the ball. Picture: Andrew Seymour

CABOOLTURE

Venue: Morayfield Road, Morayfield

Coach: Mark Carstens

Captain: TBA on Friday night

Key players: Jake Tyler, Jackson Moule, Mateus Chankay

Coach's comment: "Everyone hopes to make finals and that's what we're training towards. (Pre-season) wasn't too bad. It's an early start to the competition games (this year) so we had to compress a fair bit of stuff. (I'm optimistic) we will be competitive and are keen to be competitive."

2019 result: Second

Last premiership: 2011

Nambour halfback David Oakes.
Nambour halfback David Oakes.

NAMBOUR

Venue: Crusher Park Drive, Nambour

Coach: Dave Cordwell

Captain: David Oakes

Key players: Brenton Stonier, Luke Murtagh, Dylan McGrath and David Oakes

Coach's comment: "We're in as good a spot as we can be at this stage so I'm pretty happy heading into Round 1 and confident of a good start to the season and that's what we're aiming for. First of all we just want to be competitive every game and in a position to win all games and see what happens from that."

2019 result: Sixth

Last premiership: 2005

Former NRL star David Shillington (third from right) will run out for the Noosa Pirates this weekend.
Former NRL star David Shillington (third from right) will run out for the Noosa Pirates this weekend.

NOOSA

Venue: Tewantin Sports Complex

Coach: Brett Winkler

Captain: Terry Carroll, Rajan Opetaia-Halls

Key players: David Shillington, Jake Egan, Seaton Reid

Coach's comment: "Obviously we want to play footy final. Main thing for us is improvement every week, as long as we are improving as a team it will be a competitive competition."

2019 result: Fifth

Last premiership: 2017

Rowan Winterfield. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Rowan Winterfield. Picture: Alix Sweeney

STANLEY RIVER:

Venue: Neurum Road, Woodford

Coach: Rowan Klein

Captain: Brett Doherty

Key players: Rowan Winterfield, Dalton Phillips

Coach's comment: "It's going to be a very tough season. I think if you're not prepared to turn up or play well, you'll get beat. I'm looking for our side to turn up and have a dig for each other. If we do that it will bring a lot of game. Our goal is to make the final and reassess then. We'd love to win again but we're not looking that far ahead right now."

2019 result: Champions

Last premiership: 2019

Kawana’s Travis Long.
Kawana’s Travis Long.

KAWANA

Venue: Nicklin Way, Bokarina

Coach: Andrew Hinson

Captain: Tommy Hearn

Key players: Sam Wright, Jack Just, Travis Long

Coach's comment: "I think we're looking very strong. We've had a really good pre-season which is good, boys are looking to get into it after a year off. I would like to build on our last season in 2019. I would be saying that we'd be at least looking to be in the semi-finals. That's our target and then once we get there, anything's possible."

2019 result: Fourth

Last premiership: 2015

Beerwah Bulldogs RL captain-coach Jordan Meads. Picture: Patrick Woods
Beerwah Bulldogs RL captain-coach Jordan Meads. Picture: Patrick Woods

BEERWAH

Venue: Sportsground Road, Beerwah

Coach: Jordan Meads

Captain: Jamie Maliko

Key players: Troy Hanipa-Paki, Lino Mineanganofo, Jamie Hill

Coach's comment: "We're in a slightly building stage this year, so I have no doubt that our best work will be in the later part of the year, but we're fortunate that a vast majority of the teams will be able to play in the finals. With that in mind, we're hoping to do most of our work on the back end of the season, and hopefully that all culminates in us having a pot in semi-finals or finals."

Last year: Brisbane Rugby League Division 1 champions. Third in 2019

Last premiership: BRL 2020. Sunshine Coast nil

Stephen Buckley.
Stephen Buckley.

GYMPIE

Venue: McVey Road, Gympie

Coach: Mick Buckley

Captain: Tim Wyvill

Key players: Vincent Law, Stephen Buckley, Barwoo Fisher

President's comment: "We should go all right and have lot of speed there. We're hoping to play finals but just being competitive is the number one goal."

2019 result: Seventh

Last premiership: 2010

MORE PLAYERS TO WATCH

Ryan Hansen, Stanley River Wolves

The Woodford squad will share Hansen in an ongoing deal with the Moranbah Miners.

Brett Doherty, Stanley River Wolves

The Stanley River junior has been named the captain this year.

The former Falcon was considering calling time on his career before COVID-19 struck the competition.

Dalton Smith, Stanley River Wolves

Smith has played for the Sunshine Coast Falcons previously and is a Kilcoy local.

The Wolves junior is back home after a stint in the NSW cup where he played for the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Brenton Stonier, Nambour Crushers

Stonier was the 2019 Sunshine Coast rugby league player of the year.

Matthew Gough, Nambour Crushers

Former Sunshine Coast Sea Eagle also played for Wests Panthers in the Bundaberg A-grade competition.

Rohan Messer, Maroochydore Swans

A damaging back returning home to the Swans.

Messer previously played for the Sunshine Coast Falcons.

Dave Shillington, Noosa Pirates

The 37-year-old last played for the Gold Coast Titans in 2016.

The former Queensland and Australian rep was forced to retire in 2017 due to ongoing injuries.

Jake Egan, Noosa Pirates

Egan is a former Gympie Devil.

The up and comer played with the Melbourne Storm under-20s side.

Jordan Meads, Beerwah Bulldogs

Returns as player coach after leading the dogs to their first silverware in 40 years in the BRL division one competition last year.

Highly skilled back, the former New Zealand Warrior will also lace up the boots for Greece in the Rugby World Cup later this year.

Sam Fa'apito, Beerwah Bulldogs

The New Zealand residents flyer just completed pre-season with the Norths Devils.

He certainly made an impression on the wing in the Devils outfit - scoring a try against Redcliffe in a recent trial match.



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