Last Updated: July 17, 2014

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Local sport

Bond University named as headquarters of Queensland Country team

Reds v Cheetahs match @Suncorp Stadium 6.40pm

Ben Daley is a contender for the Queensland Country team that will play in the NRC this year. Source: News Corp Australia

THE Gold Coast will be home to the Queensland Country team in a second-tier professional rugby competition that officials say could propel the careers of local footballers.

Bond University was yesterday named as the headquarters of the Queensland Country team in a nine-side tournament that will start in August.

The Country squad is one of two Queensland teams in the National Rugby Championship.

There are four teams from NSW and one each from the ACT, Melbourne and Perth.

Most sides are comprised of Super Rugby, club and university amalgamations.

Current Queensland Country head coach Garrick Morgan said the competition was a step in the right direction for Gold Coast and country rugby union.

Under current regulations, the Country team can’t field more than two players from the Brisbane Premier Rugby competition.

Although the new concept will include Test and Super Rugby players who originated in Queensland country areas, Morgan said the NRC offered a better pathway for Gold Coast players.

“I’d say normally it’s about 40 per cent of Gold Coasters in that Queensland Country team, meaning the tier under premier,” he said.

“I think it’s a great thing. As far as I’m concerned, the Gold Coast is a goldmine for rugby” the former Test forward said.

“I predict in the next few years, if there are three or four blokes from Bond Uni or a good player who’s out there who isn’t playing for Bond Uni, they could be a chance if they perform.

“There’s a big player base out there. It just opens another door, another pathway for them.”

Morgan said there was a lack of opportunities to play elite rugby in Australia and he thought the NRC would help to fill the gap.

“We’ve been setting up these academies all over the place in the past, and in New Zealand and South Africa,” he said.

“Yeah, you might have an academy but it’s all about playing. When I played over in Europe we were playing up to 40 games a year.

“Here some of the players play less than 20 games a year so we’re behind the eight ball on the amount of rugby we play.”

Bond University Vice Chancellor Tim Brailsford said venues had not been ­finalised but he hoped NRC games would be played on the Gold Coast and in Townsville.

He said the university was likely to make changes to its venue to cater for media and the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) requirements.

“We will become the Queensland Country centre of excellence and the team will be based at Bond and will train at Bond,” he said.

“We are in discussions about hosting some matches there.

“We would certainly like to see a couple of the home games played on the Coast and we are looking at what changes to our facilities will be required to host those matches.”

“We might do it in the traditional Gold Coast way with lots of marquees.”

Brailsford said he also hoped a match would be held in North Queensland.

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