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Queensland Country have confirmed their coaching staff for the 2019 National Rugby Championship season.
The Bond University Queensland Country side has been named for their National Rugby Championship Grand Final clash against the Fijian Drua, this Saturday at Lautoka’s Churchill Park, kicking off at 1:30pm AEST (3:30pm Fiji time).
Head coach Rod Seib has only made one change to his side that claimed a 45-24 win over the Western Force in their semi-final last weekend on the Gold Coast.
Scrumhalf James Tuttle has suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon, ruling him out of the match.
Sunshine Coast product Tate McDermott will return to the starting line-up in the nine jersey, while Bond University’s Harry Nucifora has been named as cover in the reserves.
Saturday’s Grand Final will be Country’s second straight National Rugby Championship decider, having last year staged a come from behind 42-28 win over the Canberra Vikings in the ACT to claim their maiden title.
From the match-day 23 that contested last year’s Grand Final, eleven players are returning for their second grand final appearance, including Angus Scott-Young, Harry Hockings, Angus Blyth, Filipo Daugunu and McDermott, who went on to make their Super Rugby and St.George Queensland Reds debuts in 2018.
Country head into the match having only dropped two matches during the 2018 regular NRC season, and having previously accounted for the Fijian side in Mackay in Round 4.
However, the Drua haven’t lost a match at home this season, and pose a tough challenge for the reigning premiers.
“We are fully aware of the challenges ahead of us this weekend and have great respect for the Drua,” said Seib.
“Both teams have the ability to score from anywhere on the field, so the game should be a fantastic spectacle for all Rugby supporters.
“We take great confidence from the way in which we have prepared and played in our away games this season.
“Whilst there are extra challenges playing in Fiji, the team is looking forward to the opportunity this weekend.
“The Fijian’s passion for Rugby is well known around the world.
“Most elite Rugby teams around the world are influenced by team members with Fijian heritage.
“Our team is no different with Filipo Daugunu and Kirwan Sanday both set to start for us on the weekend.
“We’ve had great support from the Queensland Country Rugby community throughout the season, and we hope we can do all our supporters proud on the weekend as we chase a second straight title for Country.”
The 2018 NRC grand final will kick off at 1:30pm AEST on Saturday, and will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Channel 503.
Queensland Country side to face Fijian Drua in NRC grand final:
1. James Slipper – Bond University/Gold Coast
2. Efi Ma’afu – Wests
3. Kirwan Sanday – Easts
4. Harry Hockings – Reds/University of Queensland – Bowen
5. Angus Blyth – Reds/Bond University – Gold Coast
6. Angus Scott-Young – Reds/University of Queensland
7. Tom Kibble – GPS
8. Caleb Timu – Reds/Souths
9. Tate McDermott – Reds/University of Queensland – Sunshine Coast
10. Hamish Stewart – Reds/Bond University – Pittsworth
11. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths
12. Duncan Paia’aua – Reds/Norths – Rockhampton
13. Jordan Petaia – Reds/Wests
14. Filipo Daugunu – Reds/Wests
15. Jock Campbell – University of Queensland – Gold Coast
16. Richie Asiata – Easts
17. Harry Hoopert – Reds/Brothers – Jondaryn
18. Jake Simeon – Souths
19. Rob Puli’uvea – Wests
20. Harry Wilson – Brothers
21. Harry Nucifora – Bond – Gold Coast
22. Tom Lucas – Sunnybank – Rockhampton
23. Patrick James – Brothers
Two changes have been made to Queensland Country’s starting forward pack for their game against Sydney, with Harry Hockings returning at lock and Souths prop Jake Simeon set to make his starting debut.