When people think Rugby League these days, the Melbourne Storm comes to mind and in particular, the big three of Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater! But TRL Melbourne have their own “big two”. Kristin Gibbs and Pat Beazley, two of the best mixed players to have played TRL since inception back in 2005. In fact Kristin is arguably the best female player in the Country having won the Tim Swan Medal in 2015 and playing a key role in last year’s Origin Series. Both are Brisbane expats and have moved to Melbourne to further their career. Kim Siauw (Coach of the Melbourne teams) is particularly excited by what his mixed team might bring to the table: “We’ve been building nicely, we have a good crop of talented kiwis down here and the structure and experience of Gibbs and Beazley. It is a nice fit of flair and stability and we would be confident of featuring in the finals.”

Not to be outdone, Canberra have been chipping away at their craft since the 2016 edition of the Australian Championships and their regional sides featured prominently at the NSW State Championships. Ben Spencer (Coach of the Canberra Vikings) is particularly excited: “We love a beer, and we love TRL….not necessarily in that order. Redcliffe will enable us to build and bond as a team and we are aiming to knock off the likes of Townsville, Toowoomba and the Gold Coast to creep into the top 8 this year.”

Finally we have the might of the Newcastle Knights. Whilst their NRL namesakes have been cellar-dwellers since the “better than lego” days of the early 2000s, this TRL unit will be a force to be reckoned with. They have a great deal of talent amongst their ranks and in fact are led by former Knights and Sharks forward, Mark Taufua. Many pundits have predicted they might actually knock off many of the QLD teams and go deep into the finals.

It will be a fantastic experience for all three areas to travel to Redcliffe and test their skillset against the very best in the Country but they will be doing far more than simply making up the numbers. The skill level and game-play that is already on show in these areas should be a concern for all the established QLD Franchises. For me, I am predicting the Melbourne Mixed side to finish in the top 4 and go within a whisker of Grand Final glory. Go the Melbourne Magic!

Tom Longworth