The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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ROUND 12 PREVIEW
NORTHERN PRIDE v CENTRAL COMETS
Barlow Park, Friday, June 10 - 7pm
In the first of the Intrust Super Cup Friday night games to be played this year, the Northern Pride will host the Central Comets in what is shaping as a season-defining match for the visitors. With only the three wins to their name so far, the Comets are losing touch with the teams who are challenging for a top six spot.
Coach Wayne Barnett has made a number of changes to the team which lost 44-18 to the Dolphins last weekend, with Daniel Bartlett, Joshua Speer and Neale Wyatt coming into the side. However, the Comets will be without prolific try scorer Mat Templeman who has been released to play for Central Division in the QRL A Grade Carnival.
The Pride will be looking to bounce back from their loss against Tweed Heads last weekend and have also made a few changes to their line-up. The experienced Rod Jensen has been moved to the bench as an impact player, with Hezron Murgha coming in on the wing, and Sheldon Powe Hobbs dropping out of the team.
Two players will reach milestones this weekend; with Joel Riethmuller (Pride/Ipswich) playing in his 100th Queensland Cup game and Brent Williams (Comets/Easts) playing in his 50th.
SUNSHINE COAST v BURLEIGH BEARS
Stockland Park, Friday, June 10 - 7.30pm
The newly-christened Sunshine Coast Stadium will host the second of the round's Friday night games, with the Sea Eagles hoping to snare their first win against the visiting Burleigh Bears. Despite not being able to overcome Easts Tigers last weekend, the Sunshine Coast showed some spark - reaching their highest score of the season in their 38-28 loss.
It was also their closest losing margin of the year, which should give the side some encouragement going into the game. The home team will field an unchanged side for the contest. However, the Bears have made a few changes to the side that beat the Mackay Cutters 7-6 last week. Late round 11 inclusion Robert Apanui remains in the side, while the impressive Brenton Lawrence has not been named after he was called into the Titans NRL squad.
Burleigh have the third best defensive record in the competition with only 197 points against (behind only Tweed Heads and Pride tied on 160), so they will not be making things easy for the Sunshine Coast. Bears coach Paul Bramley (Souths Logan/Mackay/Burleigh) will coach his 84th Queensland Cup game on the weekend, drawing level with Mark Gee to be equal 10th for most games coached. He has won 52 of his encounters and lost 29.
IPSWICH JETS v EASTS TIGERS
North Ipswich Reserve, Saturday, June 11 - 2pm
* Live on ABC 1
After playing in what is now a record fourth Queensland Cup drawn game in a season - the Ipswich Jets will be hoping to return to their winning ways against Easts Tigers. But in an interesting twist, the two teams' first meeting in round 1 this year resulted in a 16-16 draw.
The Tigers will be aiming for their fourth victory and their first back-to-back win of the season and will be aided by the return of Shane Neumann to the centres. Liufau Hala will move to the bench with the Melbourne Storm's John Leiataua not named in the 17.
The Jets have named both Marshall Chalk and Michael Fisher despite both players leaving the field in their game against Wynnum Manly with rib injuries. The Jets are also likely to be without the services of inspirational skipper Keiron Lander but Titans pair Luke Capewell and Esi Tonga have been included at this stage.
In milestone news, Jets winger Ramon Filipine will play his 50th Queensland Cup game. In an added incentive to head to the game, Jets sponsor Europcar has bought the gate, allowing rugby league fans to attend the game for free.
MACKAY CUTTERS v NORTHS DEVILS
Shark Park. Sunday, June 12 - 2pm
There can be no doubting the importance of this game for both teams, with the sides eighth and ninth on the ladder and equal on eight points. Both sides have been slightly disappointing so far, and despite winning four of their games, inconsistency has robbed the teams of momentum.
While the Cutters may have been a little unlucky to lose last weekend to the Burleigh Bears by a field goal in a low-scoring game - the Devils were comprehensively outclassed 40-0 by Souths Logan. The Cutters have made a number of changes with Origin requiring the NQ Cowboys to call out for Ben Jones and Will Tupou. Justin McKay (Moranbah Miners) has been named in the halves again for the Cutters after being brought into the squad late last week, and has been rewarded with another start.
McKay was selected in the NQ team to play in the Divisional Championships on the Gold Coast this weekend but he has given up that opportunity for another crack at Queensland Cup. Norths too have undergone a reshuffle, with Michael Roberts moving into the starting side for Jay Aston and FOGS Cup hooker Ben Sullivan getting his chance in the Intrust Super Cup off the bench.
Their forwards have also had a facelift with Dunamis Lui on the bench for the Broncos and Pat McPherson starting as prop. Jacob Samoa and Natthan Cleaver are also out.
REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS v WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS
Dolphin Oval, Sunday, June 12 - 3pm
* Live call on BAY FM 100.3
The deciding leg of the Herald Cup sees the Redcliffe Dolphins host the resurgent Wynnum Manly Seagulls in what is set to be a hard-fought clash. The Dolphins overcame a number of cruel injury blows to post an impressive 44-18 win over the Comets last weekend. Ryan Carr's comeback only lasted 15 minutes, with the impressive half reinjuring his hamstring, ruling him out for a number of weeks to come.
The Dolphins are also down on troops across the park, with Nick Slyney still out of the side and despite being named to take his place as hooker, Tommy Butterfield is also in doubt. Wynnum have had to overcome injury woes of their own, with three players - Jake Granville, Jason Moon and Ben Shea - struggling to finish their game against the Jets last weekend.
However, all three have been named for this clash, with the only major change being the possible absence of Shea Moylan, who has again been named on the wing for the Origin-hit Brisbane Broncos. Head-to-head, Redcliffe have the upper hand, having won 22 of their previous encounters, with the Seagulls the victors on eight occasions.
There have been two drawn results. Redcliffe's Derrick Watkins will play his 150th Queensland Cup game, having previously turned out for the North Queensland, Toowoomba and Aspley. Mike Higgison and Troy Robbins will call the game live on BAY FM (streamed on BAY FM website). The preview starts at 2pm.
TWEED HEADS v SOUTHS LOGAN
Sunday, June 12 - 3.00pm
Following two stellar performances, the Souths Logan Magpies will be confident of becoming the first team this year to knock the Tweed Heads Seagulls off their perch. The Magpies managed to keep the Norths Devils scoreless last weekend in their clash and were able to put on 40 points of their own, running in seven tries with relative ease.
Tweed however, had a much more difficult time against the Northern Pride to claim their 14-point victory. The Seagulls lost Shannon Walker last weekend to a hamstring injury with Ryan Milligan again filling in as fullback. Tim Maccan also makes a return to the team from the Bycroft Cup while Ben Ridge is out to play with the Titans.
The Magpies have again named double try scorer Trevor Thurling in their side, but have lost the services of James Stuart to the Raiders. Both teams have won nine games apiece in their head-to-head record. Two Tweed Heads players are on track to notch up milestones with Ryan Simpkins to play in his 50th Queensland Cup game (all for Tweed).
His skipper Brad Davis only needs one more goal to become the third player to tally 400 goals in the Queensland Cup behind Burleigh's Nick Parfitt who has 471 and former Redcliffe player Greg Bourke who kicked 403.