Risdon Cup ready to launch
TODAY sees the kick-off of the 2012 Risdon Cup competition.
Last year's champions USQ begins its premiership defence against Toowoomba Bears at USQ Oval from 3pm.
USQ is one of many clubs taking on a new look this season with the loss of key personnel including coach Gary Briscoe.
Following is a snapshot of this year's competition hopefuls.
2011 ladder finish: First
2012 coach: Greg Covery
GREG Covery has been named as replacement coach for the outgoing Gary Briscoe. Covery is a teacher who has worked at Warwick's Scots College and Townsville Grammar. He will be assisted by Paul Hanna. B Grade coach is Mitch Bradbury with Keith Canning assisting. Saints ended a dominant 2011 with a sparkling grand final win over Rangers but will begin this season missing a number of key players. They still however retain good numbers and a formidable playing roster.
2011 ladder finish: Second
2012 coach: Matt Edwards
MATT Edwards takes over the Echidnas' coaching role this year from Justin Garvie. Roma was one of the real forces in last year's competition with a solid home record again its strength. A lot of its good season work was undone when a preliminary final loss to Rangers ended the team's bold premiership bid. They shape as a strong finals contender again this season under Edwards.
2011 ladder finish: Third
2012 coaches: Tom Crockett, Eoin Carey, Al Gillespie
RANGERS were the big improvers of 2011, winning through to the grand final where the powerful Uni line-up ended their game premiership bid. Tom Crockett, Eoin Carey and Al Gillespie take over the coaching reins from AJ Doidge while Lincoln Humphries joins the club with a view to bolstering the back-row playing stock. Flanker Stuart Killen is expected to be available for a majority of the year. Prop Mick Munn also returns from serious injury. Two stand-out performers this year in pre-season training have been under-19 graduates James Noon on the flank and Matty Roberts at prop.
2011 ladder finish: Fourth
2012 coaches: Andrew McKinnon, assisted by Max Fairbanks and Bryan Battersby
FORMER Bear and Goondiwindi Emu Andrew McKinnon steps in this season for 2011 A Grade coach Hamish Procter. He will be assisted by Max Fairbanks and Bryan Battersby. Bears are in a typical rebuilding phase after a number of powerful seasons. Officials report solid recruitment numbers, with the downside being that several experienced players, including number 10 Andrew Roseby, will be missing this season. Michael Jarroush and Russell Jackson will be in charge of the under-19 squad as Bears look to pin a lot their future hopes on the club's emerging junior talent.
2011 ladder finish: Fifth
2012 coach: Luke Fritz
LUKE Fritz takes over the coaching role at Goondiwindi this season. By its own high recent standard the Emus experienced a disappointing 2011. The team's season inconsistency proved an ongoing concern for coach Trent Raymond before it rallied late to grab the final fifth spot. Gundy proved easy meat for Bears in last year's semi. Seasonal conditions and working commitments will probably dictate the team's playing strength during the season but a finals berth will again be the Emus target.
2011 ladder finish: Sixth
2012 coaches: Andrew Hirst assisted by Gary Briscoe
THE Cods started training mid-February with good numbers but they are hoping to build further. The arrival of former USQ coach Gary Briscoe to assist Andrew Hirst on a part-time bonus is expected to prove a boon for the Cods. Being affiliated with the Chinchilla River Rats will see them provide players in three senior grades. Rep player Brendan Sexton has joined the club.
2011 ladder finish: Seventh
2012 coach: To be announced
THE Black Pigs are still to announce a coaching replacement for Sam Skeat but club president Jack Wilkinson, who is assisting club captain Tom Feez with coaching, said the club has gained extra young talent this year which will help cover for its past depth problems. Loose head prop Sotiris Ioannou from Cyprus is reportedly looking promising. Many of last year's team have also stayed for another season, with number eight Hugo Radford, number 10 Nick Dunsdon and outside centre Paul Maguire all in this year's Darling Downs squad. Second-rower Michael Porter, who is currently in his 10th year with the club, and fullback Mathew Adams, who has played five years, will be looked to for their experience.
2011 ladder finish: Eighth
2012 coach: Dan Hayllor
DAN Hayllor takes over as Dalby coach from Michael Gall as the club looks to improve on a disappointing 2011 finish.
2011 ladder finish: Ninth
2012 coach: Stuart Mace
THE Frillies got off to a disjointed start to the season with a lot of the team unable to train together for much of the pre-season due to flooding and flood-affected roads. However, the squad has been back in full swing again for the last couple of weeks. Newly appointed head coach Stuart Mace has the whip cracking, trying to improve on below-par performances throughout the last two seasons. A couple of star performers for many years, Mitch Anderson and Toby Wass, are moving from St George. The evergreen Jack Johnson is set to stamp his mark back on the competition after a year of absence through injury last season. It will again be a challenging year for St George but after some tough decisions, the only way for them is up.
RISDON CUP TODAY
Condamine v Rangers at Condamine
USQ v Bears at USQ
UQ/Highfields v Goondiwindi at Highfields
Roma v St George at Roma