Townsville rugby league teams are on the cusp of an unprecedented sweep of almost every trophy available at every level of the game.
While all the attention is on the North Queensland Cowboys ahead of their NRL grand final qualifier on Saturday night, it turns out they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
From schoolboys to the National Youth Competition and even state-league level, teams from the north have enjoyed utter dominance in 2015 in a further sign that the future of rugby league in the tropics is in safe hands.
Last week, Kirwan State High became the first team from North Queensland to win the GIO Schoolboy Cup, beating Patrician Brothers’ College Blacktown 28-10 in the final at Pepper Stadium.
It came on the back of victories in both the under-16 Cyril Connell Cup and the under-18 Mal Meninga Cup for the Townsville Stingers back in May – although both sides lost their national play-off finals against Cronulla.
Meanwhile, the North Queensland under-20s take on Manly in the NYC preliminary final at AAMI Park on Saturday, before the Cowboys’ do-or-die NRL clash with Melbourne Storm.
Then on Sunday is the Intrust Super Cup grand final where the Townsville Blackhawks – introduced to the competition only this year – will face the Ipswich Jets for the right to be crowned Queensland’s best state-level team.
Win that, and yet another trophy beckons.
If victorious, the Blackhawks will move onto the NRL State Championship final against either Wyong or Newcastle, who will fight it out in Sunday’s NSW Cup decider.
Cowboys second-rower Jason Taumalolo – a former Kirwan High student – says it’s no fluke.
“It’s that North Queensland spirit, I guess – never leave anything in the tank,” he told AAP.
“Hopefully we go out there on Saturday night, put in a good performance, win and we’ll be one step closer (to a sweep).”
Blackhawks coach Kristian Woolf, who took the Cowboys to an NYC grand final in 2011, said he has been blown away by the performances from Townsville sides across the board.
“It’s pretty good, isn’t it?” Woolf told AAP.
“Rugby league is the dominant sport in Townsville but at the same time I haven’t seen this kind of success before.
“There’s certainly a buzz within the community. There’s a real love for the sport anyway, and it’s only going to grow on the back of this.”