Winton’s country league week really goes to town
WINTON thrives on rugby league, just like any other rural community.
The local senior side – the Winton Devils – compete in the four- team Central West Rugby League competition, and while Saturday’s Queensland Cup clash between the Townsville Blackhawks and Ipswich Jets was the main game, the support for the Devils curtain- raiser against the Ilfracombe Scorpions was just as passionate.
Winton’s Eric Lenton Ground was packed, and Memorial the locals were there hours before the 6pm Queensland Cup game for a day full of junior matches and a showdown between Charters Towers schools All Souls St Gabriels and Blackheath & Thornburgh College.
The raw talent on show and sheer love of the game made a moving impression on the Blackhawks squad, which spent three days in Winton and left yesterday after doing a tour of the town’s Australian Age of Dinosaurs museum.
“Giving back to the country community is really important because the rural area of Queensland is a massive part of rugby league,” Blackhawks second rower Blake Leary said. “It’s great to give something and I hope we did.”
Blackhawks operation manager Adrian “Happy” Thomson hails from Winton, as does St George Illawarra player Kurt Mann.
Former Cowboys and Queensland State of Origin player Matt Sing was also born in Winton, and the CWRL’s other competing towns including Iflracombe have produced the likes of Matt Scott, Chris Grevsmuhl and Justin O’Neill.
Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf said concepts like the Queensland Cup’s Country Week round were vital to keeping rural areas connected with the rest of the rugby league community.
“We’ve had great experiences coming out to rural areas in the last two years, and it’s just the way you’re welcomed and they way you’re looked after that’s special,” he said.
“The county feel and country atmosphere is unique, and they love turning up to support their team.
“It’s important we support them as well.”