DARLING Downs will be out to make an early-season impact when they face the Queensland Police team in next Saturday's rugby curtain-raiser at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
The Downs representative team and Queensland Police will meet in the lead-up game to Saturday night's Super Rugby trial clash between the Reds and Auckland Blues.
Coach Andrew Skipper yesterday announced a Downs 23-player squad for its rep season pipe-opener.
Downs officials were left with a difficult task in naming their final line-up following a strong player roll-up at last weekend's Downs Rugby high performance camp at UQ Gatton.
Thirty-six of the Downs most experienced and promising players were put through their pre-season paces during the weekend by Skipper, guest specialist coach Jono Farrell, manager Bill McNaughton, trainer Kate Reardon and physio Mark Brownlie.
"I was very impressed with not only the high level of core skills displayed during the weekend, but also the mindset of the players and the intensity that they trained at," Skipper said.
"I am very excited about the program ahead and the prospect of playing against the police team prior to the Reds match."
Downs Rugby general manager Cameron Donaldson said the numbers and quality of players who committed to the high performance training camp is one of the most encouraging in recent years and augurs well for a promising season.
"It was exciting to watch stalwarts of previous rep teams locking horns with young up-and-coming players," Donaldson said.
"It was clear the competition for places in the team was fierce.
"The only problem coming out of the weekend was having to trim the squad for the police match next Saturday."
Brendan Sexton has been named Darling Downs captain with veteran representative scrum-half Matt Howse vice-captain.