What a weekend of rugby in QLD.
The Reds vs Brumbies on Saturday night and before that, Queensland Premier Rugby returns across Brisbane.
We're going to be dishing up plenty of QPR content this year and the best bit? There's no pay walls and we aren't Phil Kearns.
With three games playing for silverware, let's have a look at how each club are shaping up for 2021.
Bond University vs Norths
Knocked out in the preliminary final last year, Bond will be back to go a few steps better this year. They've bought in Salesi Manu and Tautalatasi Tasi from Gordon and what about James Ambrosini and Lloyd Johansson joining them as well? Wowee.
Two losses are Ryan Menzies and Rhian Stowers who both headed south to play in Shute Shield.
What about Norths?
It's been promised for some time, but perhaps Norths might improve this year?
They've added some nice pieces to the puzzle with Conor Chittenden returning alongside Jordan Luke. Paulo Leleisiuao is back from overseas, Bart Ritchie returns to Shaw Road and they've added big timber in Callum MacDonald. The bittersweet big loss if of course the club legend Nick Chapman linking up with the Aussie 7's and Reece Tepani joining the Rebels.
Predicting Norths to improve in 2021 but down the M1 Bond might be too strong @ home in Round 1.
Bond by 14.
Easts Vs Sunnybank
The defending champs and Australian Club champions take on Sunnybank @ home with the Rick Tyrrell cup on the line.
Obviously they've lost Ben Mowen and now Aidan Toua to retirement, front row monsters Van Nek (Rebels) Francis (Waratahs), Seru Uru and Richie Asiata are occupied with the Reds, Michael Gunn and Dylan Taikato-Simpson are in the wind, not to mention young Zac Crothers is still seeing stars and out for 2 weeks on HIA after West's Jerry Skelton sent him back to Churchie (check out this weeks episode of Stan Sport's Rugby Heaven, it doesn't disappoint).
Sunnybank on the other hand, they've got more changes than the local Brisbane weather of late. The notable inclusions are Josh Fenner, Lawrence Tominiko, Nese Solia from Melbourne and Feao Fotuakia who returns from GPS.
Tom Lucas is not playing, Josh Afu has hung up the boots, Rex Tapuai has shifted into coaching and Zac Shepard heads south to link up with Randwick.
Not a kind draw for Sunnybank, but Easts are missing a whole host of players with plenty of cattle on the sidelines.
Call me crazy but...
Sunnybank by 5.
GPS Vs Souths
Based on last year, you'd think this might be the blow out of the weekend and also easy retention of the Bunter Bowl for the Gallopers.
GPS with their massive pack and a fair bit of stability within their playing roster, or so it seems. They've welcomed back 2018 premiership winners Pat Nicholson (year off) , Olly Bartlett (UK) and Matt Gicquel (injury), Matt Mafi has migrated from Brothers with young gun Josh Vatu playing at 9. The loss is Jono Kent who moves to Wests chasing the #10 jersey.
Souths are in 'rebuilding' phase this year with a young squad, they've lost a couple of the real exciting youngsters in Kalani Thomas and Lukas Ripley, but will enjoy the services of Sean & Jack Farrell, Elijah Kefu is up from Southern Districts and Sam Von Blakensee that returns from the Brumbies Academy.
It's always about peaks and troughs, here's hoping Souths can improve on last year, perhaps results weren't reflective of their progress.
Let's hope so.
GPS by 22.
University of Queensland Vs Brothers
Match of the round time, 110 years of rivalry, The Templeton-McLean Cup, UQ vs the filth @ St Lucia, giddy Up!
Brothers have made some good off-season gains, grabbing Ash Watson and Richard Clift from UQ, Phoenix Hunt from Easts, Blaze Barnes from Randwick and Ben Hyne back from the Brumbies. They'll put together a strong side for this weekend including a very strong backline of including the Creighton brothers.
On the flip side, Brothers said goodbye to Brad Kapa who lobs up at St Lucia, Michael Wood who joined the Waratahs, stalwart flyhalf Rohan Saifoloi heads back to Sydney and young Hooker Ethan Dobbins has joined Wests.
UQ pick up Kapa and a bunch of other players, namingly the young fellas from Souths, Kalani Thomas and Lukas Ripley. The list of inclusions is long and impressive, whilst they've lost the two blokes to Brothers as well Jordan Lenac who heads overseas and Albert Anae who of course is down with the Rebels.
Who knows. The Brothers backline is red hot but the forward pack might not be quite as strong, it'll be interesting to see.
UQ typically don't win too many games until they need to late in the season while Brothers have fallen on their sword in overtime twice to the Heavies in the last 2 years.
Too close, someone is getting a bonus point ;)
For the sake of the exercise, Wests have the bye this week but they've been pretty active with recruitment, they are every year it seems. Ethan Dobbins has come across from Brothers to get his shot in the big leagues, James Conville and Kamaea King move from St Lucia to Sylvan Road and they've got a couple of others as well.
They'll kick off their season next week against Brothers @ Crosby Road, tough start!
Enjoy your QPR!
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