Queensland Reds flanker Curtis Browning will captain Brisbane City in the inaugural season of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship, which kicks off at Ballymore Stadium on Thursday 21 August, 2014.
A former Australian Under-20 captain, Browning has just completed his first season of Super Rugby with the Reds as a blindside flanker.
The NRC is a new domestic Rugby competition, involving nine teams from across Australia. The inaugural season will run August to November and is aimed at giving players another link in their development pathway towards Super Rugby and ultimately Wallabies selection.
Queensland Rugby is fielding two teams in the competition – Brisbane City and Queensland Country – with Reds players split between the two squads. Players were chosen for either City or Country based on their existing player pathway and high performance discretion, to ensure an even split between the two sides.
The Brisbane City side will be coached by Reds forwards coach Nick Stiles, who will be supported by Queensland Premier Grade coaches Pat Richards (Easts), Rod Seib (Sunnybank) and Shane Arnold (GPS).
Stiles today announced his 35-man squad, along with his captain.
“Curtis will do a great job as captain,” Stiles said.
“He has captained his country at the under-20 level and was twice named the Australian Under-20 player of the year. He developed a lot in the lead up to 2014 and made strong contributions on the field throughout the season.”
The 35-man squad features 10 players from the Reds 2014 main squad – Curtis Browning, Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby, Will Genia, James Hanson, James Horwill, Dave McDuling, Jake Schatz, Ben Tapuai and Lachie Turner.
They will be joined by three members of the Reds 2014 Extended Playing Squad and six from the Reds 2014 Wider Training Squad.
The remaining 16 players have been sourced from club Rugby, including the 2014 Australian Under-20s flyhalf Jake McIntyre of Brisbane club Sunnybank.
In all, the squad boasts 11 players with Super Rugby experience and six capped Wallabies.
Current Wallabies Will Genia and James Horwill have been allocated to Brisbane City. Genia is currently undergoing rehabilitation following ankle surgery, while Horwill has been named in the Wallabies squad for The Rugby Championship. Both players will be involved with the team and assist the leadership group, while also fulfilling an ambassadorial role.
While not named in the squad, Reds flanker Liam Gill will be available for selection for Brisbane City pending Australian Sevens obligations.
“I feel we’ve got a good balance within the squad, with a mix of contracted Reds players and talented guys from club Rugby,” Stiles said.
“The guys who are established Super Rugby players seized opportunities when they were presented to them. Those same opportunities now exist for the club players we are bringing in.
“I’m pleased we were able to present an opportunity to some young up-and-coming players like Michael Gunn, who has been in the Reds Wider Training Squad all year, as well as guys like Tim Buchanan, who has been around a while and played 100 games for his club, University of Queensland.
“The NRC is about creating pathway opportunities for players and further developing the depth and talent pool of Australian Rugby. We pride ourselves on our pathway opportunities in Queensland Rugby and the NRC provides another chance to reward players.”
Brisbane City’s inaugural NRC season kicks off against the Sydney Stars at Ballymore Stadium on Thursday 21 August at 7:30pm.
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