Grand Final Deja vu for Woolf’s Pack

Wednesday, September 23, 2015


Four years ago in September 2011 Kristian Woolf was in Townsville busily preparing his team for an Under 20’s National Rugby League Grand Final. Players in that side included Kyle Feldt, Moses Pangai, Zac Santo, Daniel Beasley, Micheal-Parker Walshe, Alex Elisala, Chris McLean, Nathan Norford, Micheal Morgan, Chris Grevsmuhl and Jason Taumalolo.

This week Woolf is in the midst of another Grand Final preparation, this time for the Queensland Rugby League’s Intrust Super Cup. Many of those same players from four years ago find themselves preparing alongside their Under 20’s Cowboys Coach again for this weekend’s big game.

The bond that existed between coach and teammates of the 2011 North Queensland Cowboys Under 20’s side gives a great insight into how this Townsville & Districts Mendi Blackhawks side ended up together in their inaugural season.

It was not big pay cheques that drew these players back to North Queensland. It was the idea of playing again as a team under a coach who guided their development as young footballers.

Coach Woolf set about his recruitment in late 2014 determined to attract footballers who played in Townsville as Juniors or who had a local connection to the area. “We wanted to have a real local feel to it so our first port of call was guys who had a connection to the area and have played their footy here at some stage so that’s the type of guy that we aimed to secure from the start.” he said.

Local off-contract Cowboys Anthony Mitchell and Ricky Thorby chose to stay in Townsville after their time in the NRL had come to a close which further bolstered the fledgling club’s playing stocks. The addition of Neville Costigan close to Christmas was certainly the biggest signing for the Mendi Blackhawks and his experience and leadership has proven invaluable in the club’s first season in the competition.

Woolf believes that the familiarity and strong local connections are just two of the building blocks that have contributed to the success of the Townsville & Districts Mendi Blackhawks in their historic inaugural season. He cites culture and work ethic as equally important factors in building a competitive rugby league side.

“We wanted to build a strong culture straight away alongside developing a tough work ethic so we aimed our recruitment at that ilk of player and backed it up with an intense pre-season program.” Woolf said.

It seems to have paid off as the team are now preparing for a trip to Suncorp Stadium to take on the unpredictable and exciting Ipswich Jets in the Grand Final of the Intrust Super Cup on Sunday 27th September.

Mendi Blackhawks Operations Manager Adrian Thomson said that the team had exceeded expectations in their first year but that the players were settled and focussed on their next match.

“They are preparing as normal. Trying to keep the nerves in check and remember what got them this far. I am sure they will enjoy the rest of the build up and certainly the match on Sunday.

“There is excitement of course but they know they have a job to do.” he said.

The Kirwan High team took out the GIO Schoolboys National final, the North Queensland Cowboys Under 20’s play their Preliminary final this weekend, the Cowboys have had an outstanding year in the NRL and are heading into their 5th straight finals series and the Kirwan State Primary School U12 side will contest the NRL Development Cup Grand Final at Suncorp Stadium on Intrust Super Cup Grand Final Day.

One thing is absolutely certain, rugby league in the Townsville area is thriving at present. The Mendi Blackhawks will be doing everything in their power to ensure this rich vein of rugby league form continues for the North Queensland Region. Sunday is set to be a genuine blockbuster.


Sweeney_BlackhawksVsCapras_Round4 (5)

Townsville Blackhawks v Ipswich Jets
Suncorp Stadium, Sunday 27 September 2015
Kickoff 3:55pm

Referees: Clayton Sharpe; Sideline Officials: Nick Morel, Peter Anderson; Video Referees: Nick Kalpakidis, Bruce Schmidt;


1. Jahrome Hughes 2. Zac Santo 3. Tom Humble 4. Mosese Pangai 5. Samsen O’Neill 6. Robert Lui 7. Michael Parker-Walshe 8. Glenn Hall 9. Anthony Mitchell 10. Dan Beasley 11. Rhyse Martin 12. Kelepi Tanginoa 13.Neville Costigan

Interchange: 15. Lorenzo Ma’afu 16. Chris McLean 17. Corey Jensen 18. Rhyse Martin 19. Ricky Thorby


1. Carlin Anderson 2. Marmin Barba 3. Liam Capewell 4. Nemani Valekapa 5. Richard Pandia 6. Josh Cleeland7. Dane Phillips 8. Josh Seage 9. Matt Parcell 10. Rod Griffin 11. Sam Martin 12. Kurt Capewell 13. Keiron Lander

Interchange: 14. Landon Hayes 15. Kurtis Lingwoodock 16. Billy McConnachie 22. Fakahoko Teutau

Match Hashtag: #CupGF