Thursday, February 16, 2023


Mackay and Whitsunday Life


Cowboys Young Guns And Mackay Cutters Clash In Airlie Beach This Weekend

In a preseason exhibition match for the ages the Mackay Cutters will face off against the North Queensland Cowboys’ Young Guns at the Whitsunday Sportspark in a Saturday night main event of what organisers are calling “a festival of footy”.

Starting from 1.00pm, the Whitsundays will be witness to “top-quality, prestige” football at the Sportspark in an event the likes of which have not been seen for more than a decade – what is being described as major coup for the region.

Cutters will take on the Cowboys in women’s and men’s divisions, Colts will battle the Brahmans, and it all kicks off on Saturday.

Cutters And Cowboys Young Guns Face Off At Sporstpark On Saturday

The Whitsundays will play host to an exhibition of high-calibre rugby league for the first time in ten years as the Mackay Cutters face the North Queensland Cowboys Young Guns this weekend.

The redeveloped Whitsunday Sportspark was chosen as the venue for the two travelling side’s preseason battle which will act as the main event for a “Festival of Footy”.

Three games of high-tier football will be played this Saturday from 2.30pm, starting with the Mackay Cutters women’s side taking on the Cowboys Academy Squad followed by the Cutters Colts against the Brahmans, and finally the big finale: Young Guns facing the Cutters A-Grade.

And before the matches, the Whitsundays’ aspiring young footballers are being given the opportunity to take part in a NRL Development Skills Clinic hosted by all three attending clubs.

Whitsunday Sportspark spokesperson Justin Butler said there had not been a game of this calibre in the Whitsundays since 2013 when the Sportspark hosted a QRL Country Round between the Cutters and Norths Devils.

“We want to host more and more of this style of sporting event,” Mr Butler said.

“For the youngsters, this is an opportunity that they often don’t have. To see this quality of football and to be able to take part in a Skills Development Clinic, that’s gold for our region. As well, this is a great chance to show off the new airconditioned Sportspark before general trade opens in a few months."

Additional scaffold grandstand seating has already begun being placed at the Sportspark to accommodate tomorrow’s event, which Mr Butler said could see more than a thousand spectators.

On the footballing front, the Cowboys Young Guns will be bringing a strong team, according to coach Steve Sheppard – who has been lucky enough to field five Queensland Under 19 players in recent fixtures. They come into the game off the back of a 24-16 loss to Cairns’ Northern Pride team, a game Sheppard said was “full of learning experiences”.

“It was a decent effort [against Northern Pride] and we held our gloves up,” Sheppard said.

“We’ve worked on ball control this week and defence is something we’re always working on. This game will be about giving these boys an opportunity to play against men at a higher level, which is good for their development.

“Hopefully we can hold our gloves up again.”

The Cutters on the other hand are the opposite, coming in hot off the heels of a 24-10 win against Central Queensland Capras and are hoping to keep the momentum going – especially against a quality opponent.

Cutters head coach Michael Comerford – who replaced outgoing coach Dave Elliott at the beginning of this preseason – is eager to prove his mettle in his side's second fixture with him at the helm.

“We want to reach the potential we know we have, and games like last week’s show that potential,” Comerford said.

“We've made a point of challenging the players mentally. There are only so many ways you can run up and down a footy field and get fit so we've tried to add that element of challenging them mentally. We reflected on that being an area that let us down in big games last year. That is key to this preseason. If every player and member of the coaching staff are trying to be better every day, it should result in improved performance.”

Both sides – and the fans - will benefit from the game being played in quarters due to the heat, which should provide a fast, open day of rugby league. The action will begin at 2.30pm, with the Cutters Women's side and North Queensland Cowboys Academy Squad facing off, as well as a game between local representatives in the Whitsunday Brahman colours coming up against the Cutters' junior side, the Colts.

Food and beverages will be available across the day, and spectators are urged to bring chairs and picnic rugs for seating, as the grandstands will fill quickly.

Whitsunday Sportspark spokesperson Justin Butler said a show of excellent support will enable the club to leverage for further events of even bigger significance.

“This will act as a pilot event,” Mr Butler said.

“We could end up with some even bigger and better games in the future.”

Whitsunday Sportspark “Festival of Footy” Schedule:

1.00pm: Cowboys / Cutters / Proserpine Jnrs. / NRL Development Skills Clinic

2.30pm: BMD Women’s Mackay Cutters versus North Queensland Cowboys Academy Squad

4.00pm: Mackay Cutters Colts versus Whitsunday Brahmans

5:30pm: North Queensland Cowboys Young Guns versus Mackay Cutters A-Grade

Bar opens 2.00pm to 8.00pm, with no BYO alcohol.

Pricing: $10 entry for 13 and over, free for 12 and under.

Limited parking, additional bus services running from major stops.

The Mackay Cutters will play against the North Queensland Cowboys’ Young Guns team at the Whitsunday Sportspark this Saturday at 7.00pm

The Mackay Cutters will take on the North Queensland Cowboys Young Guns tomorrow at the Whitsunday Sportspark, part of a huge weekend of football for the small town

The Whitsunday Sportspark will be witness to a high-level rugby league game for the first time in ten years

Crowds are expected to be out in force for the matchup which is the second preseason fixture for both teams

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