Queensland Reds flanker Liam Gill has been named captain of Brisbane City for the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC).
Queensland Rugby Union (QRU) today announced its squad for Brisbane City’s title defence of the NRC, featuring 16 Super Rugby players (six of which have played Test Rugby) and 20 non-contracted players – the majority of whom have been selected from BLK Queensland Premier Rugby. There will also be a wider training squad of players to ensure further development opportunities for Queensland’s Rugby pathways.
Gill will be supported in the captaincy by a leadership group of Reds teammates Nick Frisby, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi and Sam Talakai.
The squad also features Reds Pettowa Paraka, Andrew Ready, Cadeyrn Neville, Adam Korczyk, Jake McIntyre, Chris Kuridrani and James O’Connor.
Quade Cooper, Will Genia and James Horwill return to Brisbane City in 2015 as Wallabies allocated players – along with former Reds Number 8 Scott Higginbotham, who will return to Ballymore as a home base for the first time since he finished up with the Reds in 2012.
Brisbane City will represent seven of the nine Premier Rugby clubs in 2015 – including a combined total of seven players from recent Grand Final participants Souths and Easts.
The side also features 16 returning players from Brisbane City’s successful 2014 campaign, in which they claimed the title with a 37-26 win over Perth Spirit at Ballymore Stadium.
Head coach Nick Stiles will be joined again by assistant coaches Rod Seib (attack) and Shane Arnold, who has shifted from skills to defence.
City began training at Ballymore this week and Stiles said he was looking forward to another exciting season of NRC.
“It’s great to finalise the squad and get underway with our training program,” Stiles said.
“The competition is just a couple of weeks away and while we’ve only come together as a team this week, you can already feel the energy around the group after just a couple of training sessions.
“We built a strong identity for Brisbane City last season, which the players and fans really believed in – so it’s exciting to have so many returning players and staff – many from Brisbane school and club Rugby. Hopefully we can build on what we started in 2014.
“This is also an important part of the Reds’ preparation for 2016.
“Liam (Gill) was one of the standout performers for the Reds this year and was recognised by his peers as the most consistent player. He’s a natural leader, who the players gravitate toward. We think he’ll thrive as skipper of Brisbane City.”
Gill said he was thrilled to get the captaincy nod and hoped for another successful City campaign in 2015.
“The 2014 NRC with Brisbane City was a really enjoyable experience. Winning obviously helps, but I thought the mix of Reds and club players created a really unique environment and everyone really enjoyed it and bought in to what we were trying to achieve,” he said.
“It’s certainly an honour to lead the team. There are a lot of experienced players and strong leaders within this team that we expect to help throughout the season. We all want the same thing. We want Brisbane City to be an enjoyable and successful experience again in 2015.”
QRU last year announced it would field two teams in the NRC as an important piece in its talent identification, recruitment and development – as part of its pathway and high-performance strategy.
Now entering its second year, the NRC is a domestic Rugby competition featuring nine teams. It has been designed to give players another link in their development pathway towards Super Rugby and ultimately Wallabies selection.
Brisbane City opens the competition with a Grand Final rematch against the Perth Spirit at Ballymore Stadium on Thursday 20 August. They will also host the North Harbour Rays, NSW Country Eagles and Greater Sydney Rams at Ballymore throughout the competition.
QRU has also created a unique opportunity around the Brisbane City v NSW Country Eagles fixture at Ballymore Stadium on Sunday 20 September – when it will attempt to break the World Record for the World’s Largest Scrum. Fans can head to www.thescrum.net.au to be involved.
Tickets are now on sale for all Queensland-based NRC matches at www.redsrugby.com.au.
QRU has introduced a new ticket offer for the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC), with registered junior club participants under the age of 16 given free entry to any Queensland-based NRC game when accompanied by a paying adult.
Tickets start at just $5 for juniors, $10 for concession and $15 for adults when purchased online prior to the match.