New Tweed Seagulls signing Fetuli Talanoa will add experience to the ISC side's backline. Picture: Scott Powick.
New Tweed Seagulls signing Fetuli Talanoa will add experience to the ISC side's backline. Picture: Scott Powick.

Rain forces Tweed Seagulls trials north

HEAVY rain has forced the Tweed Seagulls to take flight and head north for trial games intended for Piggabeen Sport Complex tomorrow.

With four games planned to for tomorrow, the Tweed Shire Council decision was made to save the fields with Seagulls taking the trials to the Runaway Bay Leagues Club.

While not ideal, the trails will provide an opportunity to give players the chance to put pre-season training into practice ahead of the 2020 season.

The afternoon will kicks off with the Under 18s taking on a Northern Rivers-Titans side at 2pm (Qld).

After the outstanding success of the Tweed Seagulls under 18 side in 2019 which saw them crowned national champions, a couple of last year’s side may line up against their former teammates in their first match in Titans colours including halfback Toby Sexton and back-rower Juwan Compain.

Their Mal Meninga Cup teammates Caleb Hodges, Ben Liyou and Carsil Vaikai are likely to be in the Seagulls’ trial squad.

The second game of the afternoon will see the Tweed Seagulls women’s side also take on a Northern Rivers-Titans outfit.

Following their inaugural season last year under coach Kelvin Wright, the Tweed women showed they were very competitive, claiming the prized scalp of Burleigh in the home and away rounds.

This year Tweed be part of an eight team inaugural Queensland Rugby League Women’s competition and they will be aiming to build on 2019 which saw players Jessika Elliston play for the Queensland State of Origin side and Tarryn Aiken make the Australian Nines squad.

The Under 20s Colts will take on a combined Northern Rivers-Titans squad at 4.30pm with Seagulls Intrust Super Cup (ISC) coach Ben Woolf watching with interest.

Woolf has just been named Queensland State of Origin under 20s coach and knows that some of the young players coming through will have an opportunity during the course of the season to press for the top grade.

Woolf’s appointment continues a strong association between the club and the QRL with former head coach Aaron Zimmerle in charge of the Queensland Residents sides in 2015-16.

Woolf is no stranger to under 20s having spent four season as the Titans under 20s coach before the NRL wrapped up that competition in 2017.

The final game of the day will see the Tweed ISC side play a Gold Coast Titans squad.

The Tweed side will have a similar look to last year’s successful squad, with the addition of some good acquisitions including NRL and English Super league player Fetuli Talanoa.

The 32-year-old outside back will bring plenty of experience to the Seagulls back line having played 130 games for Hull after an eight-season stint with South Sydney which included 95 NRL appearances.

With captain John Palavi returning to lead the forwards, the club has its sights set on another finals appearance this year.

Seagulls CEO Paul Stephenson said the club had recruited well and had more depth than previous seasons.

“We have some talented young players coming through, building on performances last year which saw our three male sides all make the finals,” he said.

“Sadly we have lost a few players – Christian Hazard who has gone to Souths Logan, Jack Cook and Kirk Murphy who have headed overseas and Kalani Going who

has returned to Canberra for family reasons.

“Cheyne Whitelaw has undergone another knee reconstruction and will miss this season but we have retained the mainstay of our side from last year and Ben Woolf believes they will be a much better unit drawing from their experience in 2019.”

Joining the club will be from the Parramatta under 20s will be forward Jesse Cronin, Ethan O’Neill, the son of former Broncos and Australian fullback Julian O’Neill, former Central Queensland halfback Blake Goodman, North Sydney NSW Cup forward Jerry Key, Capras forward Jamie Hill and former Redcliffe Dolphin forward Fabian Keary.

Saturday's match schedule:

  • Under-18s v Northern Rivers-Titans U18s at 2pm
  • Women’s v Northern Rivers-Titans at 3.15pm
  • Under-20s v Northern Rivers-Titans under 23s at 4.30pm
  • ISC v Gold Coast Titans at 5.45pm

All times are Queensland.

The Runaway Bay Leagues Club is at 225 Morala Ave, Runaway Bay.