16 February, 2022
Wattles confident ahead of Barrett Shield
The Wattles Warriors top grade side is looking to hit its straps right from the opening eighty minutes on Saturday evening, March 12th at Platz Oval.
In what will be the only pre-season trial leading into the Toowoomba Rugby League 2022 season, the Warriors will go head to head with traditional rivals the Warwick Cowboys in the thirtieth anniversary clash for the prestigious Barrett Family Shield.
Wattles co-skipper and star forward Dale Perkins, who has run on in seven previous Barrett Shield season openers, said there can be no other result than a green and gold success.
“It’s a very special game this year recognising three decades of the local derby with the Barrett Shield as the prize, that’s certainly the additional inspiration we need” Perkins said.
“The contest is certainly no gimme,” according to Warriors’ coach Travis Burns.
“Regardless of form on the board or expectation at the time, both teams face off with incredible spirit and ferocity in what is always a sensational spectacle for the usual abundant crowd,” he said.
Burns is expecting no less from the Cowboys in what is an annual showdown for the crown of top team on the Southern Downs.
Warwick has the evidence of seventeen Shield wins in the trophy cabinet while Wattles are sitting in what is developing into a distant second, on eleven victories.
In the last start for the coveted award the Cowboys thrilled their home crowd with a tightly fought 34–22 winning result.
Both teams had their moments but it was the consistency and team work of the Warwick outfit that saw the Shield remain in the Cowboys’ clubhouse.
The 2021 outcome highlighted a total form reversal compared to seven days previous at Platz Oval when Wattles took the kudos for two out of three games including top grade in pre-season trials.
Wattles Club President Amanda O’Halloran is confident the 2022 Barrett Family Shield trials will be its expected success overall with the usual hefty enthusiastic crowd trekking from around the region.
“The Cowboys claimed the honours in all three trials last year, but we are confident the scoreboard with indicate differently this season,” she said.
The Shield represents a family who have made amazing contributions to rugby league, especially on the Southern Downs, the Barrett name synonymous with the Warwick Cowboys Club, as is the Hamblin name with the Wattles Warriors.
The concept of a trophy as a prize for the annual Warwick versus Wattles pre-season trial had been suggested at a Wattles Rugby League Club committee meeting in 1992 by former Wattles’ president Peter Glass.
That suggestion resulted in the Wattles’ president Mary Hamblin (nee Barrett) offering a trophy in the Barrett Family’s name.
It was a decision that has gone on and written a lengthy chapter in local rugby league history.
Such a simple beginning for a tradition that is as sought after and popular as when the initial game kicked off back in 1993.
The Barrett brothers, Tom, Leo, Ron and John played with the famous Collegians Rugby League Club of Warwick, playing careers that included premiership success.
Tom, who sadly passed away in 1996, also played a season with Wattles in 1968.
Wattles’ A Grade coach Burns is more than impressed with the turn out and effort of his charges at training as the teams hone their fitness and performance a just over three weeks from Barrett Shield kick-off.
“Our new players are gelling well as they mix in and respond to the proven leadership and direction of mainstays of the calibre of Matt Duggan and Dale Perkins,” Burns said.
The green and gold team list is already seen to be missing giant star forward Joe Mua and Clydesdales gifted back-rower Ty Gardner over the coming season.
In a surprise to the Wattles hierarchy, Mua accepting a blue chip offer with the Dalby Diehards, while Gardner is settling in for a year of knee surgery recovery.
Reserve grade mentors Garth Lonergan and Nick Morris share Burns’ positive impressions with their line-up on the training paddock, while Under 19 coach Cameron Hamblin feels the injection of some new faces, obvious ability and size will see Wattles’ senior club Colts giving a promising account of them selves on the paddock this season.
- Glyn Rees