Queensland, NSW universities sides face off
The Queensland Universities Residents side will play the NSW Universities Residents team at Coffs Harbour on Saturday afternoon in what is tipped to be a highly entertaining clash between two up-and-coming sides.
The Queensland team has been selected from the Universities Rugby League Queensland competition that plays on Wednesday nights, and the New South Wales side has been selected from the New South Wales Tertiary competition.
The match has previously been played in Tonga in 2013 and in Coffs Harbour in 2014, with the Queensland side being victorious on both occasions.
Queensland coach and Norths Devils chief executive Jamie Dowse said his side had prepared well and was looking forward to the challenge of trying to secure another victory.
"The preparations are going well. We had a trial to select the side and we've had a couple of good training sessions that we've been very happy with," Dowse said.
"The quality of rugby league is pretty good in this side. Five or six of the players come from our system at Norths Devils and they've been through our rugby league program.
"Majority of the side play Brisbane second division so they have some football knowledge.
"In saying that, New South Wales will be very competitive because they have an older side with a bit more experience."
The match didn't go ahead last year, with New South Wales travelling to Canada to play the Canadian national team, while the Queensland team played the Great Britain Armed Forces Team, pulling off a huge 22-18 upset in Brisbane.
Dowse coached Queensland to last year's historic victory and he says his young side has taken a lot from that result.
"We take a lot of confidence out of that," he said.
"A lot of people didn't really think we'd get the job done over them.
"They were a big side that were a lot older than us.
"We have a lot of youth in our side so I'm pretty confident that we can do the job tomorrow after what happened last year."
The Queensland side may be young but they boast a list full of talent, with none more promising than halfback Geoff Fabila.
Fabila is coached by ex-Broncos Justin Hodges and Jharal Yow Yeh at the Australian Catholic University (ACU) in East Brisbane.
Known for his game management and direction, the speedy half will look to take on New South Wales and seize control of the match.
"Geoff is a good young man," Dowse said.
"He's one of the guys that have come through our development program at Norths and he played junior representative football at Norths.
"He had a year off this year to focus on his studies, but he's doing a great job for ACU and obviously 'Hodgo' and Jharal have given him some direction.
"He's the main playmaker and I'm confident he'll do a job for us and direct the side around the field."
But Fabila is not the only one to look out for, with Queensland boasting some international flavour in their impressive side.
Lock David Todd, who grew up in America, will take to the field bringing his hard running and supreme toughness with him.
Dowse said Todd was one of those players that he loves to coach because of his ability to listen and learn.
"David Todd is a tough kid," he said.
"I was looking forward to getting him into training and teaching him a bit.
"He's a fast learner and he wants to learn. David's the type of kid that you want to coach."
Fabila, Todd and every other player that takes the field on Saturday afternoon will be eligible for selection for their state again later in 2016.
The Queensland Universities team will play New South Wales Universities at Langlands Park on October 8, with selections to be made for those sides later in the year.
From that match the Australian Universities team, to be coached by former NRL coach Matt Elliott, will be chosen for next year's Universities World Cup in Sydney.