The final teams list for the 2015 edition of the Laurie Spina Shield, presented by Fantastic Furniture, has been confirmed.
The full complement of 64 teams – including a combined team consisting of Gemfields and United Suburbs players – will take part in the popular under-11s rugby league carnival, to be played primarily at Brothers Rugby League Club over two action-packed days from Friday 26 June.
The final will be played at 4.30pm on Saturday 27 June at 1300SMILES Stadium as the main curtain-raiser to the round 16 NRL match between the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys and the Cronulla Sharks.
Organised by the Cowboys in honour of their first club captain, this year’s carnival is the 19th staging of the event, in the club’s 20th anniversary year.
All 64 teams will get the chance to play at least six round-robin matches at Townsville Brothers’ complex in Kirwan.
Aside from the combined Gemfield/United Suburbs team, Shield participants include:
- Four teams from Townsville club Western Lions
- Three teams from Townsville Brothers
- Three teams from Rockhampton
- Other central Queensland teams, including Emerald Tigers, Gladstone Brothers, Capricorn Coast Brothers, Blackwater Crushers and Springsure Mountain Men
- NT Titans
- Cairns region teams, including Cairns Kangaroos, Redlynch Razorbacks, Edmonton Storm, Edmonton Lightning, Innisfail Brothers and Yarrabah Seahawks
- Mackay region teams, including Mackay Souths, Proserpine Whitsundays, Sarina, West Tigers Mackay and North Mackay Magpies
An added feature of the annual event is the Fastest Feet relay, a spectacle held at half time of the Cowboys v Sharks NRL game where the teams compete sideline to sideline.
More than 500 players will be on the field at the one time, with eight players per team competing in a running race relay combined with football handling skills.
Also, one player and one official from each team will form a spectacular guard of honour for the Cowboys when they run out on to the field just before 5.30pm for the main game.
Several current Cowboys NRL and NYC squad members have the Laurie Spina Shield in their playing history, including five-eighth and recent State of Origin debutant Michael Morgan and Cowboys squad members Ray Thompson and Kyle Feldt.
Morgan said he was thrilled to throw his support behind the carnival, and will be on deck at Cowboys HQ on Friday – along with his North Queensland teammates – for a signing session with the Laurie Spina Shield participants.
Cowboys game development manager Liam Bartlett said the great response from junior clubs was another indication of how much enjoyment the Laurie Spina Shield provided to young footballers.
“It’s really pleasing to have so many clubs come back year after year and to see some new teams in the draw for 2015,” Bartlett said.
“Once again, thanks to Fantastic Furniture, we have a fantastic two days of footy and fun planned for the almost 1,000 kids who will be taking part in a total of 199 matches.
“It’s one of the highlights of our season here at the Cowboys, especially when you get to see the grand final played in front of a big crowd at the stadium.”
Nine teams played in the inaugural carnival in 1997 and it’s estimated that this year’s event will contribute more than $1 million to the Townsville economy.
“To once again have a capacity lineup of 64 teams is just great for the carnival,” 1995 Cowboys captain Spina said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the kids enjoying their rugby league over the two days of the event.”
Saturday 27 June, 1300SMILES Stadium:
12.45pm: Gates open
1pm: NYC Cowboys v Sharks
2.45pm: Qld v NSW Women’s Interstate Challenge
4.30pm: Laurie Spina Shield Final5.30pm: Cowboys v Sharks