Ipswich trio chases revenge in Lions' curtain-raiser
THE fate of Queensland's rugby pride rests in the hands of three Ipswich-based players at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow.
But it has nothing to do with the visiting British Lions.
The curtain-raiser to the Reds versus Lions game is the annual sub-districts interstate clash for the Barraclough Shield.
Ipswich Rangers will be represented by second-row combination Dan Egan and Josh Sio, both of whom played in last year's 35-16 loss to NSW.
Joining them is Springfield fullback Joe Leule Brown.
Queensland has not beaten NSW in the clash since 2008.
This year they will be fired up by a Suncorp Stadium home crowd, with Egan given the honour of captaining the Queensland team.
Only problem is he has been a rare starter for Rangers this year after starting a new job as a police officer.
He admits his match fitness may be a little short of peak, which isn't ideal given he thinks it will take a full 80-minute effort to reclaim the shield.
"It'll get tested," Egan said. "We had them after 20 minutes last time. Then we let them off the hook. You can't switch off."
Sio made his Queensland debut last year and thinks the experience will have him better prepared this time, even though he took out the man-of-the-match award last time.
"I think it will help," Sio said. "I know what to expect now."
Last year Rangers had four players in the squad but this year marks a change of approach from selectors.
"There is a bigger intake from different clubs," Sio said.
Part of the reason was the number of players who trialled for the squad this season, with 110 showing up, double the number from last year.
The Ipswich pair hopes it transfers into success this time.
"You always want to win," Egan said. "Especially at home."
Egan will feel right at home leading the team he has represented on three occasions.
"I like being in the driver's seat," he said.
"And with the Lions versus Reds afterwards - you've got to be happy with that."
None of Egan's teammates are likely to be left in any doubt about the captain's wishes when they're on the field.
"I tell people what I think," Egan said.
"I'm not short of words but I'll try and lead by example."