PLACES in the Wide Bay Whales team for the Queensland Country Championships will be up for grabs when Bundaberg meets a combined Hervey Bay/Maryborough side in a home and away shoot-out.
They will do battle in Hervey Bay at 4pm today before backing up at home for the return leg at Across The Waves Sports Complex next Saturday.
The Rum City side will play Gladstone twice, in Agnes Water on February 18 and in Bundaberg on a date yet to be set.
But Bundaberg coach Rob Darney said the Wide Bay team would be chosen after their two matches against the composite side, with players from South Burnett also vying for selection.
Darney said they would be much below strength today, with big guns Mat Templeman, Joel Turaga, and Matt and Jarrod Tanner still carrying injuries sustained in the rugby league Reconciliation Carnival last weekend.
But he will still field a very good team, headed by tough veteran prop Bruce Dalton, Central Queensland representative flanker James Courtice and mercurial half Luke Cummins.
"It will be a mixture of players from Wests Barbarians, Turtles and Falcons - there are no Isis players at the moment but we urge them to come along," Darney said.
"We have been training for the last five or six weeks but it is a new team.
"But it has gelled reasonably well in the last couple of weeks and we will go out with an open mind and play our type of football.
"I expect players like Jimmy Courtice, Luke Cummins, Peni Vesicula and Robbie McKeown to lead from the front, but our strength is the front row of Bruce Dalton and Matt Leighton and I expect our tight five to dominate their forwards.
"For those players who want to represent Wide Bay in the Bundaberg area, the opportunity is there to play well individually but also as a team and hopefully be selected in the team.
"I expect a good showing there - there is good talent in the team and there will be more next weekend when we will have a trillion players to pick from - some players have other commitments this weekend."