GALLERY: 68 pics from Gympie's first taste of A-grade rugby
RUGBY UNION: Two Gympie union players got to experience the taste of A-grade footy in the Sunshine Coast Stingrays colts under-19s and men's teams on Saturday at Albert Park.
It was a double celebration as the two Stingrays sides defeated the Gold Coast Cyclones, 39-20 in the colts and an astonishing 53-22 in the men's.
Colts Brae McAllister and the men's Ryan Gottke could not be faulted for their efforts.
Gympie Hammers president Jason McPherson said just simply getting the two games to Albert Park was a massive achievement and to have two players put on the Stingrays jersey just topped it off.
"We will build on this as a club and hopefully this will be an annual event and not the same weekend as the Gympie Music Muster,” he said.
"We had a few of our boys train for the colts side and Brae was able to push his way in and found himself with a position on the wing.
"Ryan Gottke was doing a bit of promotional work with the Stingrays and getting pulled into the game was a highlight for me. He got the Sunshine Coast best and fairest for reserve grade as a landslide vote and this is really rewarding and suited to him.
Since the Hammers do not have an A-grade team, McPherson said these two games would show them the standard for the next level.
"I think because we have been a reserve grade side it gives our boys a good look at this to realise that we are not far off the mark and pushing back into A-grade,” he said.
"It is not just about numbers, we have to get the right quality players and the coaching we are putting through to our younger guys we will eventually get there and hopefully 2021 is our year for all grades.”
This was McAllister's first game of A-grade colts for the Stingrays and he said to get the call-up for a starting spot came as a bit of a surprise.
"I expected to start the game on the bench but to start on the wing was pretty cool,” he said.
"It was not too bad, I didn't get too involved. I don't think I stuffed up too much. I got a good run and a few tackles in.”
The highlight of the match for the Gympie product was his first touch of the ball.
"When I got to touch the ball was good and also being out there with the other boys,” he said.
"Also being able to contribute to the team.”
McAllister said it was an easy transition from playing in Gympie to the Stingrays.
"The team is all good with you and it feels the same as club,” he said.
"We have a rule that we cannot mention where we are from because we are just one team. We are not allowed to wear our club clothes to training, everyone is a Stingray now.”
The Stingrays colts focus now turns to their match in Cairns and McAllister is aiming to have a few more touches of the ball and possibly a try.