WHILE many of them are mates off the field, there will be no love lost when they cross the white lines this Sunday as the Mareeba Gladiators take on Ivanhoes at the Smithfield Sports Complex.
When current Mareeba Gladiators captain Trent Barnard made the decision to play for the Gladiators this season, he brought with him a large contingent of promising and long-serving Ivanhoes players – a move that is set to make this fixture far more personal for both sides than any previously played in 2019.
In addition to Barnard, the Gladiators were able to acquire the services of the supremely talented five-eighth Jayden Edwards, up-and-coming backrower Brodie Welsh, elusive outside backs Mitchell Brim and Buddy Knight, and ever-reliable CDRL stalwarts Tai Hobbler and Ben Pye – all of whom have donned the Ivanhoes red, white and blue at some point in the past two seasons.
Barnard, who helped deliver Ivanhoes their first premiership since the early 90s in 2016, noted that it will be unusual running out on to the Smithfield Sports Complex in the Gladiator green and gold.
“It will definitely be an odd feeling, especially being in the dressing shed down the back,” he said.
“I played so many years here and a I’m still really good mates with a lot of the boys in the Ivanhoes side, so this is a game I’d love to win and one I circled on the calendar at the start of year.
“I’m sure I’ll be copping it from the crowd quite a bit – that is good though as I know it will be a great atmosphere and hopefully there’s a strong crowd on hand.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”
Gladiators five-eighth Jayden Edwards boasts arguably the best kicking game in the CDRL competition, and he would’ve surely been in Ivanhoes’ long-term plans before his decision to take his talents up the Kuranda Range.
Edwards said he can’t wait to test himself against his old club.
“I’m sure there’ll be plenty of head-hunting going on,” he laughed.
“I definitely think there’ll be a bit of extra feeling considering how many of the boys know each other, so it’s a game I’m really excited for.
“There’s been a bit of talk in the lead-up to this game between the sides so for us ex-hoes boys it would be great to get bragging rights over our old team.”
Ivanhoes outside back Rhy Young said his side is looking for greater consistency in the remaining weeks of the regular season.
“We’ve been up and down all year, so it’ll be good to get a few wins on the trot and hopefully Mareeba will be one of them,” he said.
“Mareeba in particular is a game a lot of our players are keen to be a part of as going up against the likes of Jayden and Barny (Barnard) should be good fun.
“They are their marquee players so we’ll be looking to shut them down early and if we’re able to do that it will go a long way in helping us come away with the win.”
For those interested in watching this new-found CDRL rivalry, the Mareeba Gladiators and Ivanhoes A-Grade fixture will kick off at 3pm this Sunday at the Smithfield Sports Complex.