THE best of the Queensland Cup will tackle a National Rugby League club at Dolphin Oval next month.
THE Redcliffe Keystar juniors will wear a new design in jersey next season.
The distinctive look will bring the 800 plus Dolphin juniors into line with the senior grades.
Club junior development officer Grant Cleal said more than 700 jerseys had been ordered.
"Our juniors will be completely identifiable with our seniors in not only their jerseys but also shorts and socks," he said.
"The only difference will be in the sponsors' badges. The jerseys are even made of the same material."
The unique red and white design has been a hit with the senior Dolphins with many critics rating their jersey the most eye-catching in televised Queensland Cup matches.
The junior jersey will feature the logo of sponsor Keystar Motors, who next season begin the second year of their backing for the club.
The club's juniors this year completed another successful season with close to a record participation in the finals series.
Sign-on for next season will be held at Dolphin Oval on Sunday, February 11.
THE Emerald Group Dolphins have replaced one big man with another just as impressive.
Giant prop Adam Starr retired after the Dolphins' Queensland Cup grand final victory. Weeks later former NRL forward Mark Tookey was on the club's books.
Ironically, Tookey had played against Starr during Starr's time with the Wests Tigers and in the Super Leagues against Deon Bird, another expat to be joining the Dolphins this season.
Tookey arrived back in Australia in late September after "a two and a bit season" stint with the London Harlequins in the Super League.
He and his wife are both from Brisbane and after signing a two-year deal with the Dolphin, he now just needs to decide on where to live with their two young daughters, Sarah, 3, and Chloe, 1.
"We are staying with the in-laws at the moment in Logan City, but my wife will be working as a nurse at the Prince Charles Hospital so we have to look at our options," he said.
"We are still sussing out whether to buy on the northside near the hospital or near our families. We are weighing up the pros and cons.
"It was certainly different living in London but a bit tough with young kids. If you were single it would be great as it's the gateway to Europe."
Tookey enjoyed his time on the field, although he believes the Super League is a two-tiered competition with the top four or five sides a mile beyond the lower ranked clubs.
"The top- sides are going great guns but the others are pushing a bit uphill," he said.
Tookey arrives at Dolphin Oval with a wealth of NRL experience behind him after stints at the South Queensland Crushers, Parramatta and Auckland Warriors.
"But funnily enough I have never played in the Queensland Cup," he said.
"I went straight from Springwood to the Crushers, although there was a lot of Redcliffe influence at the Crushers with Steve Bleakley, Paul Bunn, Tosser Turner, Peter Murphy all there as well as a heap of former Redcliffe players such as Paul Woodward, Danny Nutley and Clinton O'Brien.
"Gary O'Brien, who is assistant coach at Redcliffe, also was one of the coaches at the Crushers.
"I played against Redcliffe sides in the juniors but I've always watched the Queensland Cup and am quite familiar with a lot of the players such as Troy Lindsay and Michael Roberts. I do know Mark Shipway from his time in Britain."
Tookey, 29, had told his manager at the end of the latest Super League season that he wanted to return to Australia and matters went from there.
There was quite a bit of interest from Queensland Cup consortiums, however his desire to be in Brisbane narrowed down options.
"I was not ready to finish my footy," he said. "The decision on which club to join was up to me and my family.
"But the chance to win a premiership helped sway things as the Dolphins certainly have been the best team in the comp over the past 10 years. At the end of the two seasons we'll see where we are at."
A cult figure during his time with the Crushers, Tookey has deceptive speed for such a big unit and also has developed his offloading skills over the seasons.
Weighing in at more than 115 kilograms, he will provide muscle against opposition teams keen to test Redcliffe's premiership pack.
"I'm really looking forward to the season," Tookey said. "It's going to be good. I've got the training schedule and attended a team meeting where everything was outlined for the season ahead. It's only a month until Christmas and we will be getting stuck into the work."
FOR the first time in its history, the Peter Leis Medal has been shared.Club stalwarts Michael Roberts and Danny Burke shared the 2006 version, finishing well clear of the field on August 29 in the count on the Dolphins presentation of trophies evening.Durable second-rower Burke also created history by becoming the first player to take out two medals in a row.Burke and Roberts also shared the major award of $1000 each thanks to Con Searle of Searles Garden Products."The grand final was the best day of my life," Roberts said. "And this is not far behind it. It's an honour to share the award with the blokes who have won it before. There's far too many people to thank."Burke paid testimony to his teammates and thanked Searles for their sponsoring the player of the year award.Lock Grant Flugge finished third in the medal counting after surging to an early lead.Flugge polled 17 votes in the opening five rounds to lead from prop Pat Gardner (10).Gardner overtook the lead in rounds six to 16 to have 24 points, three ahead of Flugge and half Marty Turner (16).Roberts came into his own in rounds 11 to 15 and sat on 29 points, still six behind Flugge and two ahead of Burke (27).In rounds 16 to 22, Burke polled 17 votes and Roberts 15 to finish tied while veteran Adam Starr gained 15 to finish fourth.The medal is decided by coach Anthony Griffin and two guest judges, who register their votes each week.Griffin paid tribute to retiring forward Starr. "It's been a privilege to be involved with Adam over the past two season," he said."He is a coach's dream, and we won't realise how much we miss him until he's not there."In other major awards, Logan Sullivan collected best forward in Colts, Matt Gillett best back Asher Elemani best and fairest.Tim Yee won Dick Turner's Patron's Colt of the Year prize.In A grade, Scott Gillis was judged best forward, Mitchell Simpson best back and Dominic Fallini best and fairest.The Clubman of the Year award, sponsored by Redcliffe Travel, was presented to Henry Holder, along with a trip for two to Hawaii.The Ian 'Bunny' Pearce Chaps Menswear Perpetual Trophy winner for most points scored during the season was presented by Michelle Feron to top grade centre Greg Bourke.Medal CountMICHAEL ROBERTS 44DANNY BURKE 44GRANT FLUGGE 35ADAM STARR 32GREG BOURKE 29PAT GARDNER 28NICK EMMETT 27MARTY TURNER 26
ANTHONY Griffin was a contented man after his side's Queensland Cup win.
Never a boisterous or cocky character, Griffin nevertheless did not lose his faith in his charges after their record loss to Toowoomba in the major semi-final.
He put the aberration down to a one-off poor outing on the Downs, preferring to concentrate his efforts straight away on the task of eliminating Easts Tigers.
That completed, he turned his attention to the Clydesdales, who were raging favourites to claim another title.
He smiled contentedly as his side soaked up the pressure of the grand final, gradually strangling the hopes of the young Broncos offshoots.
"It was a top team effort by our boys," he said. "It was a real relentless display, even if we had a few things go against us early."
Griffin would not say it, but he was obviously pointing out the pass to a try line-bound Grant Flugge which was ruled forward.
"Defensively that was the best we played all year," Griffin said. "To get your lowest score against you all year in the grand final is superb.
"It was a sign of belief that the side had in itself, especially against a side like that. We didn't allow Toowoomba to play well, but in saying that, the opposition's completion rate was very good and it wasn't until very late in the match that they started turning the ball over."
Griffin said those mistakes came from Redcliffe's untiring defence, which kept on turning up despite giving away years in younger legs among the forwards.
"Our composure and our relentless defence were what stood out for me," he said. "It was a very physical match but there were not many stoppages."
Griffin will line up for the 2007 season with the Dolphins after agreeing earlier in the year to a two-season deal.
THERE was a special significance attached to Adam Starr carting up the last ruck of the 2006 Queensland Cup.
The towering front-rower went down to the ground, not so much under the weight of Clydesdales defenders but more the backslapping of Dolphin team-mates as they congratulated the 33-year-old warhorse.
Starr played his last game of rugby league at Suncorp Stadium, bring a fitting end to a career that took in the ARL, NRL, France and Redcliffe.
A Dolphins junior, he returned to the club to finish off his career and succeeded with four stars.
"It was the final hit-up and all the guys were saying to pass it to me," Starr said. "They all knew it was on and that the game was over."
Starr now has no regrets about bowing out.
"I'd still like to have a connection to footy and Redcliffe but I will stay away next season," he said.
"I have a three-year-old daughter and another child due in January so it will be all good.''
Along with captain Troy Lindsay, Starr led the way from the front, breaking his usual strong-running game up with a couple of early passes which took the Toowoomba defence by surprise.
"I think the turning point was when we held them out for six sets of tackles in a row in the first half. That seemed to frustrate them,'' he said.
"It was a good hard game in the first half as both sides were into each other. They just made a few more mistakes than we did."
Starr, who has worked at Foster's brewery at Yatala for the past three years, said he would stay away from the game for a while to ensure he had no itchy feet about a premature return.
"That game was one of the highlights of my career and not too bad a way to finish up,'' he said. ""No one expected us to get up and those expectation seemed to come true after the first couple of minutes when they scored."
Starr is the only top-line Dolphin to announce his retirement with Lindsay indicating he would return in 2007.
HE was the forgotten Dolphin.
Shane Perry started the season as Redcliffe's captain and ended it in the Broncos side contesting the NRL finals series.
He missed the Dolphins' Queensland Cup triumph as he was in Sydney for the Broncos' showdown with the Newcastle Knights.
"The ABC in New South Wales doesn't show the Queensland Cup so I kept up to date with the score via text messages," he said.
"I spoke to a few of the guys before the match and wished them all the best."
Perry welcomed the news that red-hot Redcliffe centre Nick Emmett had signed with the Broncos for the 2007 season.
"It's good that Nick will do the entire pre-season with us and then see what happens," he said.
Of course, Perry had his own grand final dreams to contend with. The Broncos forced their way into the season decider with a thumping comeback against the Bulldogs for a showdown against the Melbourne Storm.
THE day before a grand final and everyone was on edge.
Object of the Redcliffe camp's concern was diminutive halfback Marty Turner.
The playmaker was in doubt for the entire week leading up to the Queensland Cup grand final after straining his right hamstring in the preliminary final against Easts Tigers.
"I was 50/50 all week and it was not until the night before the grand final that I was declared fit to play," Turner said.
"I had a slight strain against Easts and I knew I hadn't torn it. I could have stayed on but it was decided for me to come off.
"I had a tough session on the Friday night and I came through it.
"I had a couple of niggle during the big match but it was not too bad."
Turner was one of Redcliffe's best in the upset against Toowoomba, scoring a vital first half try and continually threatening the opposition line with his darting runs.
The former Melbourne Storm signing enjoyed his first senior premiership after winning the Colts title with Norths.
"It was pretty tight at halftime but our defence really aimed up in the second half," he said.
"We forced mistakes from them late in the match once we got into a real arm wrestle.
"A lot of the boys have been there before and our forward pack knows how to win grand final."
And Turner's future? "I'll be with the Dolphins next year as I'm really enjoying it out there."
MAN of the match Michael Roberts is waiting by the phone.
The vastly talented hooker hopes he is the centre of a National Rugby League bid over the coming month.
"There's been no nibbles so far," he said. "Hopefully I will hear something over the next couple of weeks.
"I would definitely take up an offer, even if it meant leaving Brisbane. It's a chance I could not afford to miss."
He said the 2006 Queensland Cup victory was definitely the sweetest of his career.
"As a senior player I took it a lot more personally than I did earlier in my playing days," he said.
"When Toowoomba scored very early I said to the other players that it was the best thing to happen.
"I said that Toowoomba would think it would all happen like it did in the semi two weeks before. We knew that we would step up and that what happened in Toowoomba wouldn't happen again."
Roberts was confident that the Dolphins would field a strong side again in 2007 even if he left. He said the retirement of Adam Starr would leave a gap but the club's Colts were a young but talented group.
He also said Redcliffe never had any problems attracting senior players who wanted to gain attention of NRL clubs or have the opportunity to win a premiership in their closing years.
THE first field goal of Michael Roberts' rugby league career turned out to be a match-breaker.With the Queensland Cup on a knife edge at 12-6 to the Dolphins, hooker Roberts nailed a one-pointer from close range to put his side two scoring opportunities ahead."I thought the field goal was the turning point and not because I kicked it," Roberts said. "We had been down their end for five or six sets and had not broken through. I thought if we did that again and failed we might get a bit down."There was 10 minutes or so to go and the conditions were in our favour if we could get further ahead. There had been only three tries scored so far in the match so I reckoned it was the way to go."Roberts had an explanation for him never landing a field goal before. In past seasons he has had senior players such as Tony Gould and Shane Perry to take the responsibility."I planned the field goal as soon as packed the scrum," he said. "I placed myself at first receiver and it never looked like missing."But that doesn't take it away from our defence, which won us the game. It was just a bit of turning point."This season Roberts, playing in his fifth Queensland Cup grand final, has assumed the role of a senior player with the Dolphins.He was playing in his fifth decider and the victory gave him a three-from-five record."It was funny that after the field goal things started going our way," he said. "They were in front of a kick-off and started dropping the ball a bit."Roberts rated the premiership "a pretty special one". "No one away from the Peninsula gave us a chance," he said."It was very quick out early on and 20 minutes into the game the coach gave me a break. I was starting to blow a bit but was always the plan."The match was a direct contest of their speed and athleticism and our experience and composure. We have a lot of grand final experience and it counts for a lot."I mentioned in my speech about the core group of players and everyone knows who they are. There's Troy Lindsay, Adam Starr, Grant Flugge, Danny Burke and myself, all of whom have played together for five or six years while Shane Perry also would have been there."