IN country towns around Australia old footy boots are being dusted off and middle-aged legs are being pushed through laps of local ovals as a team of cattle industry identities prepares to return to the rugby paddock to take on the best of the best, a team of former Wallaby internationals, at Beef 2021 in Rocky on May 7.
There is no ‘fake beef’ anywhere to be found in the squad of Beef Barbarians that will take on the might of the Classic Wallabies, with almost every player boasting genuine cattle industry credentials.
That was a key priority of selector and captain Brad Hanson, a well known livestock agent from Hourn and Bishop in Moura and a big rangy lock who once played A Grade rugby league on the Sunshine Coast and still plays golden oldies with his mates.
All but two members of the 22 player squad he has selected are “beef to their bootstraps”, with cattle producers, agents, buyers, processors, marketers, service providers, stud breeders and industry leaders from all over the country making up the bulk of the squad.
Fittingly, even the two ‘ring ins’ in the form of two former professional players who will help to bolster the team’s rugby stocks also have strong connections to regional Queensland.
Beef Barbarians’ run on Number 8 Nick Gregorski is a former Super Rugby and Australian Sevens player and now a Brisbane publican who grew up in Bowen where his family owned the Grandview Hotel.
Jacob Raulini is a former Fijian International and Queensland Reds halfback who has since settled in Central Queensland, where he saw his career out playing for the Capella Cattledogs and Queensland Country Heelers.
“We’re under no illusions,” Brad Hanson says about the prospects of being able to take down a team of former Wallabies.
“It is not about whether we can put up a competition with the Wallabies, you’re kidding yourself if you think you’re going to do that, but it is about getting industry relevant people that everyone knows and has heard of, and we have tried to get beef industry people from as far around the country as we have been able to get.”
Being competitive against a team of former Wallabies is a big ask, but still, there’s clearly some talent in this Beef Barbarians team.
It includes a number of former Queensland Country reps including fullback Doug McNicholl, a Dulacca beef producer and Meat & Livestock Australia’s Manager for Sustainability Innovation, who also played premier rugby in Brisbane and professional rugby in Wales and the UK.
Halfback Rohan Burrows, a farmer from Rolleston, represented Queensland Country and is a also a former international, having represented Hong Kong.
The front row beef comes in the form of props Will Wilson, the AgForce cattle president and Calliope cattle producer, and Vaughan Compagnolo, a South Australian Simmental/Simbrah producer, and hooker Tommy Nobbs, a Bauhinia Brahman breeder who at the tender age of 30 is the baby of the team.
Winger Lincoln Job from Marellan Shorthorns at Emerald is a former NSW Country player who earned caps playing against international sides including Ireland, Scotland and Canada.
The team includes Australian Country Choice livestock manager and cattle buyer Damian Barsby, still known to make appearances for the Roma Echidnas in his early 50s; Middlemount Brahman breeder and former Dawson Valley Drovers captain Angus Creedon who now works for StockCo; Savage Barker & Backhouse – GDL Rocky agent Josh Heck; Lonnie Stone from Bovine Scanning Services at Tamowrth, NSW, Charters Towers cattle producer and former ABC Radio international correspondent Martin Cuddihy and AuctionsPlus CEO Angus Street.
The coach is Hughenden cattle producer Bill Needham, a founding player of the famous Kuttabul Camelboks club in Mackay.
Most of the team will shake hands for the first time at a captain’s run in their only training session together the day before the match.
Brad Hanson says several members of the squad are still playing rugby and most have been training on their own in a bid to rekindle some degree of match fitness before the game.
“I’ve seen a few fellas lapping the oval there at Moura,” he said, adding that he has lost about 10kg himself in preparation for the match.
The Classic Wallabies squad also brings no shortage of beef of its own to the occasion.
Former Australian 7s players Will Caldwell is a Simmental cattle producer from Young in NSW, Pat McCutcheon played as a junior for the Macquarie Emus in western NSW, while former Waratah and Reds flanker Beau Robinson has played for NSW Country and has spent the past three years coaching the Dubbo Roos.
It will also feature two former Rocky boys in former Brumbies, Reds and Wallaby captain Stephen Moore, who worked until recently with the North Australian Pastoral Company, and former Qld Reds and Wallaby winger Rod Davies.
The team also has a couple of Samoan and Fijian internationals who are about “the size of Brahman bulls”, according to Classic Wallabies team manager Lochie Lawrence, who himself is a Biloela boy.
All the action kicks off at 3.30pm with the ‘Beef Capital Plate’ U21s City V Country Women’s 10’s and ‘The Beef Capital Cup’ U21s City V Country Mens, followed by the Classic Wallabies V The Beef Barbarians clash and live entertainment post-match.
The program spread over a five hour window of non-stop action and entertainment offers families exceptional value for money, with adult at $15 Adults and kids Under 18 are free.
Although all attendees including the kids must secure a ticket online under the Beef 2021 Covid Safe Event Plan.
Bars and food outlets will be operating, and live entertainment will begin immediately after the main game, which will kick off at 6.30pm.
Everyone on ground will have the opportunity to meet the Classic Wallabies – an autograph and selfie hunters delight.
Full team lists
- Tatafu POLOTA-NAU
- Stephen MOORE
- Guy SHEPHERDSON
- Nathan SHARPE
- Radike SAMO
- Beau ROBINSON
- Ben MOWEN
- George SMITH
- Nick FRISBY
- Digby IOANE
- Lachie TURNER
- Patrick MCCUTCHEON
- Morgan TURINUI
- Lote TUQIRI (c)
- Rod DAVIES
- Nathan CHARLES
- Sean HARDMAN
- Mark CHISHOLM
- Will CALDWELL
- Mark CONNORS
- Justin HARRISON
- Barry LEA
- Sam CORDINGLEY
Wallaroo Ambassador: Shirley RUSSELL
Wallaroo Ambassador: Selena WORSLEY
|First Name||Surname||Club / Breed of cattle|
|1||Vaughan||Compagnolo||Simmental / Simbrah|
|4||Brad||Hanson||Brangus / Ultrablack|
|8||Nick||Gregorski||NSW Waratahs / Aus 7s|
|13||Jason||Magee||Angus / Brangus|
|14||Stu||Hobbs||Black / Red Simmental|
|16||Michael||Walker||Charolais / Ultrablack|
|22||Jacob||Raulini||Qld Reds / Fiji|
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