GAME ON: St Brendan's College First XIII coach Terry Hansen with co-captains Bill Gunning and Sam Strohfeldt.
GAME ON: St Brendan's College First XIII coach Terry Hansen with co-captains Bill Gunning and Sam Strohfeldt. CONTRIBUTED

CQ schools' First XIII teams battle in Aaron Payne Cup

RUGBY LEAGUE: St Brendan's College and Rockhampton Grammar School's hand-picked First XIII squads will go head to head in their first meet tonight in the esteemed Aaron Payne Cup.

Playing beneath their new lights for the first time, the Brendan's boys were undoubtedly excited about what was sure to be a ferocious hit.

Director of Sport at St Brendan's and assistant coach for the First XIII team, Dallas Williams, said the clash against RGS will be an opportunity for his team to work on their combinations and prepare for the Confraternity Shield in July in Bundaberg.

"For the past three or four years Grammar has been really strong so we're not going to take them lightly at all,” Williams said.

"They're a well-coached team and do a lot of work in the gym and are always physically well prepared.

"We know they are going to be tough.”

Williams said he hoped playing on home turf would provide an advantage for the boys, with the boarders and families encouraged to come out and support the team.

The team has not won the Cup since 2015, but has had the most wins out of any other school, winning 13 times since 1982.

In 2017, RGS took out the win, with Toowoomba's St Mary's securing the top spot last year.

"We had our first round last term where we played TCC and won 24-6,” he said.

"In our second round we went to Mackay and played a double header against Mackay High and Ignatius Park.

"We went down against Mackay by about 34-6, and on the second day beat Ignatius Park pretty convincingly with 38-4.”

For this round, Williams said four of his players who played in last weekend's Capras trials will be given a rest and other boys will be give an opportunity.

"We take it week by week with the boys. It's a long competition and we want to go through to the end of term three,” he said.

"There are 20 weeks of footy ahead so we want to make sure the boys stay healthy, aren't overloaded and can play their club footy as well.”

RGS head of sport Todd Wells said any time Brendan's and RGS play each other, "it's always a great battle”.

"Our boys have only just finished their rugby union season with the Ballymore Cup in the Easter Holidays,” he said.

"It's an opportunity to play against high quality opposition and refocus on structures and what we're trying to achieve as a group.

"It's a great competition and we're happy to be a part of it.

"They haven't had a lot of training but we're using the Aaron Payne Cup to build momentum to the Confraternity Shield.”

The Confraternity Shield will bring together 48 teams in one of the "biggest league competitions in Australia”.

The Cup, run by the North Queensland Cowboys, pegs friend against friend in a tough competition with some of the best schools in North Queensland.

Seven schools, The Cathedral College, RGS, St Brendan's, Mackay's St Patrick's and Mackay State High, Townsville's Kirwan State High and Ignatius Park will all compete against each other throughout the season to make it to the top four.

The final meet will be played before a Cowboys game in Townsville in the school's term three calendar, before the top four teams play off in the quarter finals at the GIO Schoolboy Cup Rugby League competition.

The top two winners from the competition will make the Queensland Semi Finals for the GIO Cup, where they will play the top two from the South East's own Brisbane Cup in the semi-finals and finals in Brisbane.

Round Four of Aaron Payne Cup

5.30pm: U15s St Brendan's v RGS

6.55pm: First XIII St Brendan's v RGS

Free entry. Live stream available on the school's Facebook pages.