Seagulls and Bears prepare for the Battle on the Border
RUGBY: State of Origin may still be some months off but there will be an interstate battle of equal intensity at Piggabeen Sports Ground on Saturday when the Tweed Heads Seagulls host the Burleigh Bears in the Intrust Super Cup.
Round three in the competition is Rivalry Round and that will certainly be the case when the two clubs clash in four grades on the day.
With Tweed being the only NSW side playing in the Queensland competition, there's an element of pride at stake but that aside, matches between the old foes always produce tough physical encounters
Burleigh coach Jimmy Lenihan said it didn't take much to fire up his side when it came to playing Tweed.
"It doesn't matter where each side is sitting on the ladder, these games always deliver plenty of intensity and physicality,” Lenihan said.
"Both sides will have some Titans players in them and those guys will be out to impress and put their case forward to be in the NRL squad.
"It's a game the players tend to lift for and this year it is in the season so the Rivalry Round clash is something they look forward to.
"We have set ourselves some goals this year and one of those is to have purpose in our games and remained focused for the full 80 minutes.
"It doesn't matter who you are playing, a side can't afford to switch off during the match or that could come back to hurt on the scoreboard.”
Bears captain Luke Page predicted the game would be a real battle and was looking forward to playing a young Tweed side which was an unknown quantity.
"They have a new-look side and I'm sure they will have a point to prove and in the four and half years I have been with the Bears, the Tweed games have always been tough, hard affairs,” he said.
For new Tweed Seagulls coach Ben Woolf, there is some added 'spice' in the match having played for Burleigh in the past.
"We are a young side that is coming together and we will use the game as a measure of what we need to do,” he said.
"There will be Titans squad players on both sides so it will be a case of mate-on-mate and while we are a young side, we won't be taking a backward step.
"Our goal is to be as competitive as we can each week and that means building combinations and teamwork and against the Bears, there plenty of incentive given the rich history of matches between the two clubs.”
The match will be the first for new Seagulls captain Cheyne Whitelaw who has missed the opening rounds of the Q Cup with a wrist injury.
Whitelaw, who joins Seagulls from North Sydney, was "pumped” about his first game in the Intrust Super Cup, especially against Burleigh.
"I know from what the boys who have been here for a while have told me that there's a fierce rivalry between the clubs and those are matches you want to play in,” he said.
The day at Piggabeen will see Tweed play Burleigh in the under 18s Mal Meninga Cup kicking off at 11.15am (Qld), the Under 20s Hastings Deering Colts, the Intrust Super Cup match at 1.10pm and then a Gold Coast A grade trial to follow.
With pride and competition points on the line, Seagulls will be hoping home ground advantage and local support will see knock over "big brother” in their first clash of the season.