The North Queensland Toyota Cowboys are delighted with today's announcement that the region will be represented in both the men's and women's divisions of the inaugural season of the NRL Touch Premiership.
One of three Queensland-based outfits, the Cowboys join the Gold Coast Titans, Brisbane Broncos, Parramatta Eels, Wests Tigers and Newcastle Knights in the competition, with matches to be played as curtain-raisers to NRL games.
Cowboys legend and Touch Football Australia board member Brent Tate said it was a massive coup for the Townsville region to have a side included in the inaugural season of the NRL Touch Premiership.
"Touch football is a hugely popular sport in our region so I am thrilled we will have a presence in the first ever edition of the NRL Touch Premiership," Tate said.
"This competition is a fantastic innovation, which will help grow the game of touch football not just in North Queensland, but nation-wide."
Each club will have two teams – women's and men's – playing in the tournament, equalling 12 NRL Touch teams in total.
A 30-minute men's game and a 30-minute women's game will be played prior to the main rugby league event, beginning in the NRL's Round 11 from Friday 18 May.
Branding, including uniforms, will align with the branding of each namesake NRL club.
TFA CEO Steve Mitchell is excited about having a Cowboys team in the mix.
"We already have an elite touch Queensland Cowboys club in our Elite 8 touch football series, and they're the strongest team in the men's competition – they've won the tournament three years in a row," he said.
"A lot of exceptionally strong touch footy talent comes out of North Queensland, including former NRL Cowboys, Matt Bowen and Scott Prince, who both credit their touch backgrounds for the talent they took into rugby league. And Cowboys head coach Paul Green played touch for the Australia schoolboys team.
"We're looking forward to having our Touch Cowboys, male and female, showcase their extraordinary speed, agility and ball skills in front of a home crowd at 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday 19 May ahead of the NRL Cowboys match against the Rabbitohs."
The inaugural Premiership will consist of six rounds plus a final. Queensland teams and NSW teams will compete against each other in separate pools, with the winners from each pool progressing to the Premiership Final.
The touch games will be broadcast nationally, as a mix of live and delayed broadcasts.
Photo: Touch Cowboys women's players Rylie Seamark and Mikayla Newman with Brent Tate