THE second biennial Frank Fisher Cup between Central Queensland’s Indigenous all stars and the Queensland Police Service’s First XIII will be held in Chinchilla this year, in a move aimed to honour two of the region’s police officers killed in last month’s shooting at Wieambilla.

Named after Aboriginal rugby league great Frank Fischer, the Cup was first held at Murgon in 2021 as a reconciliation initiative and also to highlight the importance of domestic violence prevention.

This year the fixture moves to the Western Downs in a show of support for local police following the deaths of Tara Constables Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold, whose murders at the hands of violent conspiracy theorists in December devastated the QPS community and sent shockwaves throughout the region.

The QPS rugby league team is selected each year from the force’s annual 47th Battalion carnival. IMAGE: Supplied
Aboriginal rugby league great Frank Fisher, from Cherbourg, a member of Indigenous Team of the Century. IMAGE: Supplied

“It was fitting to have the games in Chinchilla because it’s in the middle of the region and there were police from all around the region and from the South Burnett involved in the tragedy,” said Danny McGuire, QRL board director and chairman of its Central Queensland division.

Detective Inspector Garry Watts, President of Queensland Police Rugby League Association, said: “Central rugby league put the proposal to us and we jumped at the opportunity. It’s one way that we can assist the community and police members to pay memorial to Matthew and Rachel.”

Queensland Rugby League’s south west and central bosses Peter Rafter and Danny McGuire with Chinchilla Bulldogs President Charlie Redgen. IMAGE: Country Caller

Men’s and women’s games will be held at Bulldog Park on the afternoon of Saturday, May 27, and local senior teams will play a regular season home game in the evening.

Players from the QPS and Central Queensland will host games and coaching clinics at local schools on Friday, May 26, as well as with the region’s junior players at Bulldog Park on Saturday morning before taking the field.

Organisers from the Chinchilla Bulldogs and Queensland Rugby League are seeking sponsorship for the weekend’s events. Excess proceeds will be donated to foundations established to support the families of Rachel McCrow and Matthew Arnold, as well as neighbour Alan Dare who was also killed at Wieambilla.

Bulldogs coaches’ hopes to foster winning mentality

Chinchilla Bulldogs 2023 senior coaches Bill Rackemann, Tim Pitt, Charlie Redgen and Nick Mutch. IMAGE: Country Caller

Chinchilla Bulldogs president Charlie Redgen believes the success of the club’s Annual General Meeting recently was indicated by the fact that the yearly gathering only lasted 25 minutes.

All positions were filled promptly, with many exisiting committee members enthusiastically putting their hands up again for the 2023 season.

Two contemporary greats of the club have also returned to the fold as senior team coaches.

Redgen will share A-grade coaching duties with Bill Rackemann, a Bulldogs premiership winning former coach and player who said he hoped to reintroduce some “old school” footy mentality into the new generation of players.

“I love the club but I’ve been away for a while, so I’m pretty keen to get involved again and to try and help get the club back into the winners circle,” Rackemann said.

“I gave coaching away when the pandemic hit and I thought having a bit of time away and not having the commitment was good, I enjoyed it. It allowed me to do other stuff and I was flat out with work. 

“But I thought it was time to jump back in and give them a hand and see what I can do to help our young fellas. The game’s changed a lot but I think there’s still some old school stuff that can be coached into these young fellas as well as the new stuff.

“It’s about discipline and mentality, and getting your head ready for a game of footy. I think these days a lot of them just turn up and think they can play a game of football. A lot more goes into it.”

Nick Mutch, a star playmaker for the Bulldogs, returns to the club this year as Reserve-grade coach and player. IMAGE: Linda Steinohrt

Nick Mutch, 31, began playing for the Bulldogs when he was 6-years-old and has been a star among his age group throughout his bush footy career.

He returns to the Bulldogs as a Reserve-grade coach and player, alongside Jacob Sommerfeld, following a five year spell due to an injury and family commitments.

“I haven’t been back to do any training or anything since 2018, so this is a fresh start and I thought it was time to come back and give it a fresh crack,” Mutch said.

“I wasn’t doing anything so when the boys asked me to come back I thought it would be good to come and give back to the club. Country footy has a real family vibe. Your team mates become family and all of your actual family comes out to watch you play. It’s a good community to be around.”

Meanwhile Under-18s Bulldogs coach Tim Pitt returns to the helm having coached the age group since they were playing in the Under-16s competition.

He said he was confident a talented squad would assemble for the 2023 season, as several players from last year’s team are still eligible to play, and they’ll be joined by a solid cohort from the next generation entering the senior competition.

“Moving on from last year, we had a good go and got close but we were short a few, but this year we’re looking pretty good for numbers,” Pitt said.

“We’ve got a good lot of 16-year-old olds coming through and a few 17s who are still eligible. We’re pretty excited to get stuck back into training.”

Bulldogs pre-season training will commence on Tuesday, January 31.

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