RUGBY league royalty will touch down in the Far North next week with 20 former players coming to the southern Cape for the four-day Arthur Beetson Foundation Future Immortals Tour of Cooktown, Hope Vale and Wujal Wujal.
Locals will have the chance to mingle and even play alongside footy greats including Hope Vale cousins Matty and Brenton Bowen, Peter Civoniceva, Willie Tonga, Ben Roberts, Steve Southern and Preston Campbell.
The Immortals will arrive in the region on Wednesday, September 6, with visits to each community, including school events, and a barefoot bowls fundraiser in Cooktown on Friday, September 8 and a cocktail fundraiser at the River of Gold Motel on Saturday, September 9.
A highlight of the tour will be the football gala on Saturday, September 9 at John Street Oval, featuring the main event match with rugby league’s big guns mixing it up with local footy players.
Hope Vale export Brenton Bowen, who played for the North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans, said he couldn’t miss the opportunity to come back to his hometown.
“I live in Brisbane now, but I try to get up home to Hope Vale a couple of times a year, so I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” he said.
“For myself and Matt this will give us a chance to show the boys around where we grew up, so that’s something we’re looking forward to.”
Bowen said he and his fellow Immortals players would form teams with local senior rugby league players for a fun Queensland versus New South Wales stoush.
“That will be cool, especially as there is a fair mix of Queensland and New South Wales players up there.”
Cooktown Junior Rugby League Club president Ash Crowe said the Immortals Tour was a great opportunity to bring the community together over a common interest.
“It’s excellent for the community and if it’s a really good success like I think it will be, we’ll grow on it for next year,” he said.
“On the Saturday (September 9) we’re going to have a big carnival day at the John Street Oval in Cooktown with junior rugby league games, food vans and the big match with the Immortals players at 3pm.”
Crowe said although the junior games were only open to registered players, there would be a free coaching session run by the Immortals players and the Dolphins development squad that was open to anyone.
“It will be great having former locals like Matty and Brenton here, and we’re expecting a big rollout from surrounding areas like Coen, Hope Vale and Wujal Wujal, too.”
Bowen’s connection to his home will be on display during the tour, with his artwork adorning the tour clothing and paying tribute to Cooktown, Wujal Wujal and Hope Vale.
“I couldn’t do this design without referencing the waves from Cooktown, Wujal Wujal and Hope Vale with community members loving the beach and fishing,” he said.
“The footprints representing the Elders that have walked these lands before us and the three rivers that run through the middle meeting place represents the Three Rivers competition.”
Visit www.abffit.com.au for more information, including tickets to the two fundraiser events.