SNAGGING a trophy would have been nice but the Weipa Raiders return home this week knowing they can match it with the best in Far North Queensland.
The Western Cape Rugby League premiers were the surprise package of the Gordonvale Indigenous Rugby League Carnival at the weekend, narrowly losing to eventual champions Erub United (1) in Sunday’s semi-final.
With around 30 players donning the green-and-gold across five games, skipper Lumbee Pablo said the team was keen to show they could match it with some of the best players in the region.
“Some of the boys out here play footy almost every weekend whereas we only get to play six games a season,” he said.
“I think a lot of the other teams play more structured footy as a result. Coming off the back of our (premiership) win, we mentioned to the boys that we were looking at bringing a team down.
“The boys were keen but also nervous. For a lot of them, this is their first time playing carnival footy. But it’s been a really good experience.”
Club president, Billy Dix said the experience was invaluable for the playing group.
“We’ve got a lot of shift workers in the mines,” Dix said.
“They might only play a couple of games during the season, so it’s a chance for some of them to play a few more games.
“We lean on a lot of people to make this happen. A couple of boys flew down because of work and we also had a few former players from Townsville come up to play with us.”
The Raiders were forced to play in an old strip with strapping tape used to make numbers on the back of their jerseys.
“There was a miscommunication with our supplier,” Dix said.
“We’re here now and we made it work.”
Several Raiders players will also feature in mixed teams at the Dan Ropeyarn Cup starting this Friday.
The annual tournament will be held at Yusia Ginau Memorial Oval in Bamaga.
Won 34-4 v Mixed Relations Drew 18-18 v Erub United (1)
Won 24-6 v Erub United (2)
Won 16-12 v Takala Waangu
Lost 10-16 v Erub United (1)
Champions: Erub United (1)