Norths are looking forward to another showdown with a team featuring fulltime NRL players when the Townsville Blackhawks head to Bishop Park for Sunday’s Hostplus Cup clash in National Road Safety Week.
The Blackhawks have this season become the base for most of the North Queensland Cowboys’ squad not required for NRL duty.
The Devils will know what to expect after their last two clashes against Melbourne affiliate teams Sunshine Coast and Brisbane Tigers featured impressive performances from their Storm NRL-listed players.
The Devils have won the last two premierships built on the foundation of their own contracted players with affiliate club Brisbane Broncos providing an average of two players per game across those two seasons.
“We have a strong relationship with the Broncos and we value the players who represent our club and give their all for us,” Devils coach Dave Elliott said.
“We often come up against teams with several fulltime NRL players but our players love that challenge.
“We know that so many players in this competition are capable of playing in the NRL and those match-ups showcase the depth in the Hostplus Cup.
“The Blackhawks will be tough this weekend because they’re always a quality side so we’ll need to be at our best.”
The Devils have had a frustrating home run this season with a shining 48-0 win over the Northern Pride mixed in with a draw with Redcliffe in last season’s grand final rematch and three losses.
The Tigers toppled the Devils 30-10 last weekend, scoring three tries within 13 minutes to break open a game the Tigers led 4-0 after 37 minutes.
That match marked the first grade debut of Devils’ Colts product Hayden Rowbotham.
The Devils finished strongly in the rain with tries to Jared Chambers and Broncos forward Brendan Piakura.
Norths will wear special road safety awareness jerseys on Sunday in conjunction with valued sponsor Altus Traffic. The jersey is based on a high-vis design as a tribute to those whose work takes them on to the nation’s roads.
Before the match, both teams will assemble on the field to take the national road safety pledge.
“This is the second year that we’ve worn a special jersey for National Road Safety Week and we commend Altus Traffic for their commitment to safety,” Devils CEO Troy Rovelli said.
“The pledge is an important sign from rugby league of the importance of road safety for everyone and the Devils are pleased to do whatever we can to spread that message.”