Ex-Gull makes the cut at Mackay
By BOB ANTHONY
WHEN Mackay's new Queensland Cup side, the Cutters, takes to the field next season, they will do so with a Tweed connection.
Leading the forwards will be frontrower Jamie McDonald, a former Seagulls junior, who has spent time with the Cowboys and more recently with Toulouse in France before returning to Australia.
Apart from having a pivotal role on the field, McDonald is also the %operations manager for the new Q-Cup side and is looking forward to the challenges of establishing the team as a fixture in the competition.
Born and bred on the Tweed, McDonald said he had considered coming back to play for the premiership-winning Seagulls but considerations off field helped sway his %decision to play for Mackay.
"I'm nearing the end of my playing career at 30, and although I would have loved to have played at home, the Cutters offered me a managerial position," McDonald said.
"I'm good friends with their captain/coach Shane Muspratt from our playing days together at the North Queensland Cowboys, and he suggested that the operations position would be ideal for me.
"Getting the new club up and running has been as challenging as getting fit and ready to go for next year, but Mackay is very excited about us playing in the Queensland Cup."
He said the greater Mackay area was looking forward to having a team representing them and with a feeder club relationship with the Cowboys, McDonald was confident the Cutters would be a very competitive outfit.
"We have formalised our playing squad, which is a good blend of youth and experience, and personally I'm feeling pretty good with my fitness," McDonald said.
"I'm looking forward to coming home to play Seagulls and think their move to Cudgen will be for the better in terms of getting better crowds than they had at Piggabeen."
Mackay has received an $8 million grant to build a major sporting stadium in the city which will accommodate up to 15,000 but it won't be ready until later in the year.
"We are treating this year as a feeler year, sorting ourselves out under Muspratt, but there are already high expectations from the region about how well we will do," McDonald said.
McDonald said there was an added Tweed element to the new side in the shape of strength coach Simon Buxton.
Buxton, who grew up in Chinderah and played for Cudgen, Seagulls and the Canberra Raiders, is McDonald's cousin and will be flying up from Brisbane to help with developing player strength and conditioning.