Gladstone Raiders and Raidettes ready for carnival
The Gladstone Raiders and Raidettes will be out to impress when they take the field in the 47th annual Battalion Carnival, for what is rumoured to be the last time this weekend.
For 50 years rugby league teams from around the region have been battling for the 47th Battalion Memorial Trophy since the competition commenced in 1971.
Gladstone Raiders coach Brian Pengelly said they had assembled a strong side that had trained well.
“We have a good mix of players from across all of the region’s clubs,” he said.
“We have to go into the carnival confident and with the young side we have selected, the players are ready and keen to put on their best performances.”
With a mix of youth and some experience across the park, Pengelly said there were a few players to watch.
“Lincoln Rebel, Deklin Huth, Lachlan James and Tyler Massey will be looking to have big games for the Raiders,” he said.
“It’s going to be a good challenge for them as they are in key roles and they are going to come back to the local league better players.
“The 47th Battalion is always a tough carnival because you are taking on the best teams from southern and south west Central Queensland.”
The first challenge for the Raiders, Pengelley said, was to overcome the tough competition of the Sunshine Coast.
“Going by past challenges the Sunshine Coast is going to be a tough team, however any team that competes on the day has a chance to go well,” he said.
“If we win we go into the trophy round, if we lose we go into the plate round, so it is up to the players to step it up.”
Pengelly declined to comment on whether this would be the last 47th Battalion rugby league carnival.
Gladstone Raidettes coach Chris “Butch” Bryson said his side would be up for their ultimate challenge when they take on 2019 and reigning champions the Rockhampton Rustlers on Saturday.
“Given Rockhampton were the reigning champions in 2019 before the dreaded COVID hit, they will be a strong side.
“The Sunshine Coast will definitely be a strong outfit and the Central Highlands are always a challenging team.”
To see the two local rivals, Tannum Seagals and Gladstone Wallabies, put aside their rivalries, Bryson said, and come together to form the Raidettes was encouraging.
“We have a great mix of experience and youth across the board from one to 19,” Bryson said.
“We have three players currently in our side that were in the original Gladstone Raidettes team many moons ago, so I feel with their experience they can guide the younger generation coming through.”
“Butch” said if the competition was played for the last time, when the profile of rugby league was trying to be built, it would be a tragedy.
“Competitions and carnivals like the 47th Battalion Carnival challenge players and teams and develop the next level skills that can continue to be passed on to grassroots levels,” he said.
“Its disappointing this will be the last year and the traditions and skills involved won’t continue to be passed on to the next generation.”
The 47th Battalion Memorial Trophy is a memorial to the 47th Battalion Regiment which was headquartered in Maryborough, but it’s formation many years ago drew men from all parts of the Wide Bay area.
The 47th Battalion Memorial Trophy was donated in 1971 by Bundaberg’s Peter Marcellos, who emigrated from Greece and served in the Battalion that the Trophy was named for in World War 2.
The competition drew together rugby league personnel and members of the 47th Battalion in a spirit of co-operation and remembrance of those members who paid the price to ensure this country retained its freedom and way of life.