New rugby union rules cast doubt over Raiders players


Howard Salkow

Senior Journalist

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Image: Joanne Cowe.

The Port Douglas Reef Raiders rugby union club has been thrown into disarray after the Far North Queensland Rugby Union stamped down on overseas players being cleared to play in Australia.

The Raiders, who have enjoyed one of the best starts in three years, currently have six players who need to be cleared. Two are from Argentina, three from Chile and one from the UK. Two players have already been cleared. They are from New Zealand and Argentina respectively.

It is a rigid process for overseas players to play in this country involving extensive paperwork. The process involves their respective national union signing off on their eligibility to play overseas; the documentation is then sent for signature and approval to Rugby Australia, the Queensland Country Rugby Union, Far North Queensland Rugby Union and then finally to the Raiders, who can then select the players.

The ruling was enforced before the Raiders’ last match against Southside and they went into the match with a depleted side and lost 27-5. Interestingly enough, other clubs in the competition had also been fielding international players who had not been cleared to play, before the ruling was enforced.

The Raiders are currently third on the table and play fourth placed Cairns Brothers at the sporting complex in Port Douglas on Saturday at 4pm.

The Raiders lost their opening match of the season 22-19 to Barron Trinity Bulls, but followed up with solid wins over the Mudcrabs (31-0) and Penrhyn (32-7).

Raiders coach Travis Gooch said although the Raiders had the depth to manage the loss of the international players, he said it was tough not knowing when they would be available.

“There is no doubting the frustration and selecting the team for Saturday will be tough, especially when you have those who are playing out of position,” said Gooch.

Two Raiders players are in the Top 10 points scorers after four rounds of competition: Ethan Hoffman is eighth with 20 points from seven conversions and two penalties; while Matt Mallard has 20 points from four tries.

Among the Top 10 try scorers, Mallard is third with four tries and Adrian Bannerman sixth with two.

Myles Hardy of JCU Mariners is leading points scorer with 45 from two tries, 13 conversions and three penalties.

Jack De Guingand (JCU Mariners) and Dharzell Roberts (Mudcrabs) are the leading try scorers with six.

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