Why this footy game will mean so much
It’s always a spirited affair when Yeppoon and Emu Park face off in footy’s battle of the beach, but Saturday’s showdown will be a particularly emotional one.
The A-grade teams will play for the Rhys Yore Memorial Shield when they meet at Yeppoon’s Webb Park in Round 1 of the 2021 Rockhampton Rugby League competition.
The shield was donated by the Yore family in honour of Rhys, a Yeppoon junior and St Brendan’s College Year 11 student who was killed in a single-vehicle crash in January.
The death of the popular teenager, described as an “irreplaceable mate to so many”, sent shockwaves through the coast community.
Just days later, it suffered another blow when Masada Iosefa died in a quad bike accident in the Northern Territory.
The former NRL player was an influential figure within the Emu Park club and was to captain the A-grade team this season.
A minute’s silence will be held for Rhys and Masada before the main game kicks off at 6.30pm.
Yeppoon coach Shaun Goode said there would be plenty of passion and heartfelt motivation for both teams.
COVID forced the cancellation of last year’s competition and Goode said his players were itching to get back on the park.
Yeppoon are the reigning champions from 2019 and are keen to get the much-anticipated 2021 season off to a winning start.
Goode knows they will have to bring their A-game against Emu Park who he predicted would be the “surprise packets” this year.
“We’re expecting some very fast-flowing footy from them, and there will also be a lot of energy and passion after the loss of Masada Iosefa,” he said.
“For us, it’s about getting the little things right and sticking to our plan and structure.
“My big thing is to start well, build a platform and then play eyes-up footy.”
Goode said Yeppoon had some “notable omissions” this year with the retirement of Christian Davies and Jonathan Tavinor and the unavailability of Dean Blackman.
But they also had scored some big “ins” including Drew Ballard, Tarrant Mariner, Matt Minto, Chris Littleboy and the Jackson brothers, Jake and Ethan.
Inspirational lock Sam Holzheimer will again captain the side, and stalwart Gavin Hiscox returns to lead the way up front.
“We have a very strong squad, and I’m very happy with how it’s come together,” Goode said.
“There’s going to be a lot of selection headaches coming up for me.
“I had to make a few tough calls this week… but I’ve gone for a bit more experience in the first round.”