Best of the outback on display

SUNCORP Stadium may be a long way from dusty Barcaldine, but hopes are high this weekend?s QRL Outback Carnival will provide an opportunity for an aspiring Jacob Lillyman, Matt Scott or even a Chris ?Choppy? Close.

Now in its third year, the QRL Outback Carnival is aimed at giving players in remote and western regions a chance to play representative football.

Teams competing in the Carnival are host region Central West, as well as Mount Isa, Mid West and South West. Both A Grade and Under 19 competitions will be held.

Central West comprises the area around Winton, Longreach, Barcaldine, Ilfracombe and Blackall ? a region that has provided the likes of Matt Sing and Matt Scott.

Mount Isa is drawn from five sides in the western township (Town, Brothers, Black Stars, Wanderers and Desert Sharks) and is home to players such as Scott Prince and Nathan Fien.

Mid West entails the great expanse from Hughenden to Richmond, Julia Creek and Cloncurry, as well as the Gulf settlements of Doomadgee and Normanton.

Youngster Francis Ooi is Richmond?s sole representative at the Carnival, coming in the same week that hometown hero Jacob Lillyman was selected for the XXXX Maroons.

South West covers a similarly large area, stretching from Tambo to Quilpie and St George. Players also qualify for the area if they represent Mitchell, Charleville and Cunnamulla.

Two of Origin?s greatest off-field contributors ? Chris Close and Billy Johnstone ? both starred in their formative years for Cunnamulla.

The ultimate aim for players at this weekend?s Carnival is to gain selection in the Outback representative team to feature in the main curtain-raiser to this year?s City Country extravaganza at Cloncurry, held June 24.

Those who impress are also eligible to fill two remaining positions in the XXXX Queensland Rangers squad, set to tour New Zealand later this month.

One of the stars at previous Outback Carnivals, Brendon Marshall, is now the starting five-eighth for the Ipswich Jets in the Queensland Wizard Cup.

OUTBACK CARNIVAL Barcaldine, 10/11 June 2006 Competition Draw

Day 1 - Saturday 10 June 2006 10.15 am U19 Mt Isa v Mid West 11.20 am U19 Central West v South West 12.25 pm A Grade Mt Isa v Mid West 1.40 pm A Grade Central West v South West 2.55 pm U19 Mid West v South West 4.00 pm U19 Central West v Mt Isa 5.05 pm A Grade Mid West v South West 6.20 pm A Grade Central West v Mt Isa

Day 2 - Sunday 11 June 2006 10.00 am U19 Mt Isa v South West 11.05 am A Grade Mt Isa v South West 12.20 pm U13 Country v City 1.30 pm A Grade Central West v Mid West 2.45 pm U19 Central West v Mid West