Where your ISC team will finish in 2019
The race for the 2019 Intrust Super Cup premiership is shaping up to be another epic battle, with the Townsville Blackhawks again the leading contender.
Here, we look at all the ins and outs across the competition, and get a final word from the coaches before their teams begin their campaigns this weekend.
Last season: 1st (premiers)
Ins: Jordan Grant, Nick Brown (Mackay Cutters), Faitotoa Faitotoa (Newcastle Knights), Zev John (Melbourne Storm), Gerard McCallum (Easts Tigers), Harrison Smith (Cronulla Sharks), Josh Rudolph, Raeden Fonoti (year off).
Outs: Sam Anderson (Maitland Pickers), Toby Rudolf (Cronulla Sharks), Tristan Hope, Mosese Pangai, (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Josh Fauid (Easts Tigers), Curtis Johnston (North Sydney), Tom Opacic (North Queensland Cowboys), Jonus Pearson (St George Illawarra Dragons), Jake Sparey (Easts Tigers), Rinsma Saueha (Wests Panthers), Nick Slyney (retired).
Coach Adam Mogg says: We have lots of young kids that will get an opportunity this year and we're pretty excited about it. They have worked really, really hard in pre-season so they'll definitely get better and better as time goes on.
Final word: The premiers curse has seen Ipswich, Burleigh and PNG miss the finals in their respective title defences the last three years; can Redcliffe buck the trend? They will have to overcome a raft of big-name departures and a season-long injury to star Cameron Cullen to do so.
Last season: 2nd (preliminary finalists)
Ins: Jacob Hind (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Jack Buchanan (Toronto Wolfpack), Oliver Percy (CQ Capras), Tyronne Roberts-Davis (Gold Coast Titans), Sam Saville (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Jordan Scott (Souths Logan Magpies), Hayden Hansen (Swinton Lions).
Outs: Toby McIntosh (work), Jerome Veve (Souths Logan), Zae Wallace (returned to New Zealand) Matt White (retired).
Coach Jimmy Lenihan says: We have got a fairly similar side to last year; the secret now is trying to keep them on the field as long as possible because as soon as you get two or three important injuries to your group, it is really hard to recover from that because the competition is so tight.
Final word: With Redcliffe losing a host of players and some of their own aces starting to age, now appears to be the perfect time for the Bears to repeat their 2016 fortunes.
Last season: 3rd (finals week one)
Ins: Shaun Nona (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Sam Hoare, Kyle Laybutt, Shaun Hudson, Josh Chudleigh (North Queensland Cowboys), Chippy Korostchuk, Ryan Lloyd, Nathan Trail, Michael Parker-Walshe (TDRL).
Outs: Andrew Davey (Parramatta Eels), Zach Dockar-Clay (Blacktown Workers), Jonathon Reuben (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Sam Foster (Easts Tigers), Jordan Kenworthy, David Munro, Ross Bella, Paul Byrnes, Brendan Santi (Sydney), Ty Carucci (Townsville Brothers), Davin Crampton (Western Lions), Jordan Drew (Wynnum Manly Seagulls).
Coach Aaron Payne says: When you go through something like what we've experienced (flooding) in Townsville, it puts a lot of stuff into perspective, that it's just a game. It puts us a bit behind the eight-ball and we probably missed about five sessions due to the water, but up until then we were going really well. The main thing to put into perspective is that grand finals aren't won and lost at this time of year.
Final word: Every year, the Blackhawks have what looks like an unbeatable list and every year they seem to fall just short. With a new influx of standout additions, can this be the year that the club breaks through for a maiden premiership?
Last season: 4th (finals week one)
Ins: Evan Child, Steven Tatipata (Northern Pride U20s), Matolu Laumea (Innisfail Leprechauns), Hugh Sedger, Denzel King (Ipswich Jets), Dominic Biondi (Norths Devils), Cameron Torpy (Canterbury Bulldogs), Brayden Torpy (Easts Tigers), Maurice Blair (Hull KR).
Outs: Ryan Ghietti, Brett Anderson, Troy Kapea, Nathan Wales, Graham Clark, Justin Castellaro, Sheldon Powe-Hobbs (retired), Keelan White (released), Jonico Hardwick (rugby union), Darryn Schonig (Sunshine Coast Falcons).
Coach Ty Williams says: The first four rounds - Redcliffe, Hunters, Blackhawks and Ipswich - it doesn't get any tougher, so our target is that first month and then to see how we're tracking from there. We've got a lot of those players who can play eyes-up footy and that's something that we were thinking about with our recruitment.
Final word: The Cairns-based outfit did a stellar job last season but may find it hard to back it up in 2019 after losing a wealth of experience. They have, however, added veteran former NRL and Super League utility Maurice Blair late in the pre-season in a timely boost.
Last season: 5th (runners-up)
Ins: Tom Hughes, Matt Cooper (Newcastle Knights), Curtis Dansey-Smaller (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Josh Fauid (Redcliffe Dolphins), Sam Foster (Townsville Blackhawks), Rhys Jacks (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Aaron Booth, Bennett Leslie (Mackay Cutters), Sam Lavea, Justin Fai, William Samuel (Souths Logan Magpies), Jack Peoples (Norths Devils).
Outs: David Tyrrell (retired), Linc Port (Souths-Logan Magpies), Brayden Torpy (Northern Pride), Conor Carey (Featherstone Rovers), Matt Groat (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Anton Iaria (St Mary's Penrith), Adam Crear, James Salter (Proserpine Brahmans), Michael Egan (West Brisbane Panthers).
Coach Scott Sipple says: This year, we have far less injuries in the pre-season so we can hopefully get off to a better start so we can be positioned higher come finals time. We've added some more depth in our pack, which I think will be a big difference.
Final word: Few saw the Tigers' 2018 charge from fifth to the grand final coming but they won't have that element of surprise this year. Recruits and a clean bill of health has them well placed to hit the ground running in their mission to go one better.
Last season: 6th (finals week two)
Ins: Josh Cleeland (Canterbury Bulldogs), Hayden Crowley (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Peter Gubb (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Fred Keil (Melbourne Rebels/University), Brett Kelly, Jacob Teevan (Easts Tigers), Todd White (Pittsworth Danes).
Outs: Dane Phillips (retired), Wes Conlon (Brothers Ipswich).
Co-coach Shane Walker says: It's not so much motivation about the way we went out, it's more inspiration. We know we've got a really good squad. We've had two big losses in Dane Phillips and Wes Conlon, but at the same time we have a lot of guys ready to stand up and do a great job for us.
Final word: Beware the Jets. The club appear primed to return to the status of having every rival looking over their shoulder with Josh Cleeland's return from the Bulldogs to make an almighty impact alongside captain and 2018 Civoniceva Medal winner Nat Neale.
Last season: 7th
Ins: Gairo Kapana, Epel Kapinias (Rabaul Gurias), Shane Haro, Kevin Appo (Pom Vipers), Joe Joshua, Junior Rop (Lae Tigers), Daniel Tapol, Jerry Teme (Hela Wigmen), Brendon Nima, Nick Hasu (Goroka Lahanis), Joe Frank (Waghi Tumbe), Woods Kawage (Enga Mioks), Rex Kaupa (Southern Confederate), Justin Yoka, Jordon Pat (Highlands Confederate), Bland Abavu (Fassifern Bombers), Jack Oii (PRL).
Outs: Stargroth Amean, Wartovo Puara, Willie Minoga (Barrow Raiders), Ase Boas, Watson Boas (Featherstone Rovers), Rhadley Brawa, Edene Gabbie (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Brendon Gotuno (Penrith Panthers), Adam Korave, Muka Peter Kulu, Junior Bobby, Clyde Name, John Andy, Julius Yakopa, Sailas Gahuna (released), Nixon Put (Norths Devils).
Coach Michael Marum says: It's very tough replacing the boys that have left in key positions in how they control the game. Our new halves combinations are still working hard on various parts of their game and will take time to find the right combination. We are rebuilding the side this season and we are not looking too far away but certainly our goal is to be better than last season.
Final word: Everyone loves to see the Hunters do well - not least their passionate supporter base - but it will take the 2017 premiers something special to be regularly competitive following an exodus of critical players.
Last season: 8th
Ins: Connor Broadhurst (Central Queensland Capras), Luke Archer, Brad Frith, Jordan Mago (Souths Logan Magpies), Brendan Frei (Sydney Roosters), Shane Pumipi, Joe Bradley (Redcliffe Dolphins), Brad Lupi (Central Queensland Capras), Jayden Baker (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Nixon Putt (PNG Hunters), Stedman Lefau (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Henry Penn (Newcastle Souths).
Outs: John Palavi (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Alex Bishop (Souths Logan Magpies), Dalton Phillips (Sunshine Coast Falcons).
Coach Rohan Smith says: We are happy with our retention, which has been an issue at Norths over a period of time. That was our first priority, to retain those who performed strongly and we went a fair way towards doing that.
Final word: Without John Palavi and Alex Bishop, how will the side again handle disruptions associated with being a feeder club of the Broncos?
SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES
Last season: 9th
Ins: Mitchell Frei (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Harrison Muller, Matt Soper-Lawler (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Linc Port (Easts Tigers), Alex Bishop (Norths Devils), Jack Joass (Mackay Cutters), Gerome Burns (Norths Devils), Haydyn O'Hara (Brisbane Broncos), Jerome Veve (Burleigh Bears).
Outs: Sam Scarlett (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Sam Lavea (Easts Tigers), Travis Waddell (Dubbo), Corey Allan (South Sydney Rabbitohs).
Coach Jon Buchanan says: Potentially if we play our best footy, then I think we can make the finals. We are in a better position in regards to our depth in our outside backs, but not as experienced in a couple of other areas.
Final word: How will Broncos boom boy Tanah Boyd take to senior football? The Keebra Park product could have a vital role to play given halfback Sam Scarlett's departure.
SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS
Last season: 10th
Ins: Todd Murphy, Tyson Smoothy (Brisbane Broncos), Louis Geraghty (Melbourne Storm), Nicho Hynes, Nathan Saumalu (Mackay Cutters), Daniel Dole (Wentworthville), Jonathon Reuben (Townsville Blackhawks), Darryn Schonig (Northern Pride), Sitivene Moceidreke (Mounties), Trent Schaumkel (Northcote NZ), Cameron Moran (Ipswich Jets), Dalton Phillips (Norths Devils).
Outs: Jye Ballinger (Albi Tigers), Harrison Muller, Matt Soper-Lawler (Souths Logan Magpies), Jacob Hind (Burleigh Bears), Rhys Jacks (Easts Tigers).
Coach Eric Smith says: I'm really happy with the improvements we've made over the pre-season … everyone has expectations to be playing finals football. We just want to make sure we're playing a tough, consistent style of football every week.
Final word: They have added significant firepower in the form of halves whiz Todd Murphy and try-scoring machine Jonathon Reuben. Nonetheless they may need help from the likes of Storm prodigies Harry Grant and Jahrome Hughes to be a serious title contender.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS
Last season: 11th
Ins: John Palavi (Norths Devils), Christian Hazard, Kurtis Dark (Newcastle Knights), Daniel Palavi, (New Zealand Pt Chevalier), Kyle Kennedy (Newcastle Competition), Stuart Mason (Illawarra Cutters).
Outs: Jayden Baker (Norths Devils), Curtis Dansey-Smaller (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Kainoa Gudgeon (Tweed Head Seagulls), Eli Levido (Illawarra Cutters), Tristian Lumley (Dubbo), Sam Saville (Burleigh Bears), Hiale Roycroft (released) Sam Meskell (Tugun Seahawks)
Coach Ben Woolf says: We're definitely heading in the right direction at the moment. We're a long way ahead of where we were after two trials last year.
Final word: Tweed have done well to add some key players around their young homegrown talent. The burning question remains from last year though: How well will they be able to compete when their flow of quality Titans feeder players inevitably dries up at some stage?
WYNNUM MANLY SEAGULLS
Last season: 12th
Ins: Sam Scarlett (Souths Logan Magpies), Keenan Palasia (Brisbane Broncos), Mosese Pangai (Redcliffe Dolphins), Matiu Love-Henry (New Zealand Warriors), Junior Pauga (New Zealand Warriors), Patrick Sipley (New Zealand Warriors), Edene Gebbie (PNG Hunters), Rahdly Brawa (PNG Hunters), Matt Groat (Easts Tigers), Tristan Hope (Redcliffe Dolphins), Richie Kennar (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Edwin Ipape (Lae Snax Tigers), Jordan Drew (Townsville Blackhawks).
Outs: Daniel Ogden, Michael Dobson, Atelea Vea, Mitchell Moore, Joshua Hoffman, Jeriah Goodrich, Billy Solah (all retired), Peter Gubb (Ipswich Jets), Shaun Nona (Townsville Blackhawks), Stedman Lefau (Norths Devils), Mitchell Frei (Souths Logan Magpies), Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard (New Zealand Warriors).
Coach Adam Brideson says: This town, the club and our fans deserve finals football after missing the past three seasons. We believe we've been able to address the areas we needed to improve in with our recruits and have the team, that if we come together, can beat any team.
Final word: Wynnum are a powerhouse club; however they have been anything but in the past three seasons. Given their impressive recruitment drive, there are zero excuses for failure in 2019.
CENTRAL QUEENSLAND CAPRAS
Last season: 13th
Ins: Bessie Aufaga To'omaga (Cronulla Sharks), George Grant (Yeppoon Seagulls), Kainoa Gudgeon (Tweed Heads Seagulls), Mark Johnstone (Rockhampton Brothers), Jack Lote (Western Lions), Aaron Pene (St Mary's Penrith), Eddy Pettybourne (Toulouse), Matthew Wright (Manly Sea Eagles).
Outs: Connor Broadhurst (Norths Devils), David Cowhan (retired), Zeik Foster (St George Illawarra Dragons), Blake Goodman (Asquith Magpies), Jerry Key (North Sydney Bears), Brad Lupi (Norths Devils), Oliver Percy (Burleigh Bears), Peter Rogers, (Biloela Panthers), Chanel Seigafo (Victoria Rugby League).
Coach David Faiumu says: The feeling in the squad is great. From the youngest to the most experienced, everyone has really shown a commitment to get better and be the best they can be every day.
Final word: The Capras have recruited well headlined by veteran NRL campaigners Matt Wright and Eddy Pettybourne. Now under the coaching of David Faiumu, expect to see them be in the hunt for a back-end finals spot.
Last season: 14th
Ins: Pauli Byrnes, Ross Bella, Dave Munro, Jordan Kenworthy, (Townsville Blackhawks), Marcus Jensen (Townsville Brothers), Otto Wrakonei (Easts Rugby Canberra), Tyler Gardiner (Mackay Magpies), Alex Gerrard, Lloyd White (Widnes Vikings), Sala Falelua-Malio (Mt Albert Lions).
Outs: Aaron Booth, Bennett Leslie (Easts Tigers), Nicho Hynes, Nathan Saumalu (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Nick Brown, Jordan Grant (Redcliffe Dolphins), Jack Joass (Souths Magpies), Darcy Cox, Jesse Dee, Jared Maguire (MDRL), Tom Murphy, Lona Kaifoto, Johnny Faletagoa'I, Bailey Hartwig, Leoanti Fetuani (released).
Coach Steve Sheppard says: We tell our players that a bit of chaos comes around and you need to adapt and overcome, so we'll look forward and stick to the processes we think are right. Things happen for a reason and things will work out in the end.
Final word: A combination of key departures and the loss of pre-season signing Jarrod Brackenhofer means it's hard to see the Cutters climbing off the bottom of the ladder. Can they prove the critics wrong and return to their 2017 mid-table level of play?