10 May 2023

Senior footy returning to the Cape after long spell

| Matt Nicholls
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ONE thousand days.

That’s how long it has been since senior rugby league was last played in Cape York.

This Saturday, it will be precisely 1005 days since Lockhart River held up the trophy after winning the 2019 Cape Cluster.

The threat of COVID-19 put a stop to the 2020 season and last year’s competition was unable to get off the ground due to a lack of support in the region.

Senior footy will return to the Cape on Saturday when teams from Aurukun, Lockhart River, Napranum and Weipa gather at Andoom Oval.

Queensland Rugby League northern region manager Renae Kunst is making the trip to Weipa and said she can’t wait to see the return of rugby league in the Cape.

The former Jillaroo has been working in North Queensland grassroots rugby league for several years and is impressed with the passion for the game.

However, she says the regions now need to become more independent of the state body in order to be sustainable.

“It’s up to the clubs and the communities to stand on their own two feet,” she said.

“We are going to head up and do some courses with the players and volunteers to help them become capable and compliant, and then it will be up to them for the rest of the season.

“We appreciate that Cape York and other remote regions have their challenges but there’s just not enough funding to keep flying in officials and trainers for every weekend they play.”

Kunst said players would be put through a referees course prior to kick-off to give them the credentials to officiate games.

“Players won’t have to referee a whole game but they can do split shifts or rotate among themselves,” she said.

“The most important thing is to make sure that rugby league can operate without QRL staff being there.”

Lockhart River will be seen as the team to beat in 2022 on the back of their successive titles in 2018 and 2019.

Scorpions coach Wayne Butcher said it was unfortunate that COVID prevented the team from a three-peat.

Saturday’s schedule

1pm: Referee course

3pm: Lockhart River Scorpions v Napranum Bulldogs

4pm: Girls’ under-17 clinic

4.30pm: Aurukun Kang Kang v Weipa Raiders

5pm:Women’s clinic

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