Symbolic jerseys, mateship to boost pride at gala footy
IPSWICH All-Stars captain Zac Lemberg is undecided which team he will play for in this year's Rugby League Ipswich competition.
"I haven't signed yet with Goodna,'' Lemberg said.
"As much as I love the place, I don't know whether I'll be there or not.
"I'll be playing somewhere this year. Just not sure where yet.''
However, there's one game the Ipswich footballer has locked in before making up his mind.
The Goodna Eagles stalwart is keen to enjoy the Ipswich Jets, Indigenous and All-Stars Gala Day on March 6.
Rivalry and mateship will be featured among the players involved in the match.
"I've been playing for Goodna for the last six, seven years and grew up in Goodna,'' the Ipswich All-Stars captain said.
"It (next month's special game) is an opportunity to be involved in a day that is great for the community.
"Plus the All-Stars boys, anything that we can do to promote such a good day for Ipswich rugby league is in our best interests to do it.''
The powerhouse frontrunner expected the Saturday afternoon game to entertain the fans as much as the players eager to kickstart their season.
"There will be boys from all clubs that will be playing against each other,'' Lemberg said.
"I think the brand of footy will be good.''
Lemberg played in Goodna's 2016 and 2017 premiership-winning sides.
He was water runner for the Goodna Eagles team that won last year's Volunteers Cup grand final.
"It was good for Ipswich and Toowoomba to get it up and going,'' he said of the 10 week intercity series that rescued the rugby league season.
"The footy was competitive, especially for the younger fellas . . . for the 18, 19, 20 year old fellas that are trying to make a go of footy, for them to be able to get a season in.
"I know when I was 18 or 19, I'd want to go to play.''
The Ipswich All-Stars team lining up on March 6 is being coached by Scott Ireland, who Lemberg has played with and against at the Ipswich Jets in past seasons.
"I was playing Colts. He was playing Reggies and occasionally we'd back up and play together,'' Lemberg said.
"Then when Scottie was at Fassifern, I versed Scottie in a grand final.
"Scottie is a good fella and all the boys in both teams, we all know each other pretty well.
"Both sides will be full of talent, full of running and I will just be happy to be a part of it.''
Lemberg has also worked with two of the Gala day instigators Corey Kirk and Craig Wehrman.
"They are both boys I know that have had a big involvement in setting the carnival up,'' he said.
"It's a great reward for those two boys who are two proud Indigenous men, in our area especially.
"It's a credit to what they've been able to achieve with this game and hopefully the day is as good as it should be.''
Rugby League Ipswich president Gary Parker has devoted considerable time and effort to planning a Friday night function before the match on March 6.
Tickets for the function are available with Jo at Rugby League Ipswich on 3202 4137.
The Ipswich Indigeneous All-Stars team is being coached by Ireland's former Jets teammate and ex-Bronco Ian Lacey.
As the two prepare for the North Ipswich Reserve duel, Lacey paused to reflect on the special jersey designed by Jaydon Kemp for the big game.
The three bullrings represent the three tribes of Ipswich - Yuggara, Ugarapul and Jagera people.
The colours and the snake represent a Rainbow Serpent after creating rivers and laying to rest, becoming a spirit of Indigenous land.
Lacey said having such prominent artwork on a jersey is "something that we all relate to.''
"It tells our storylines of the environment that we operate out of so it's definitely good when we are able to put our artwork onto rugby league apparel,'' he said.
"Rugby league is a really good vehicle for our community. We all love the game. It's well documented how successful our Indigenous players have been in the game.
"You look back through the last few decades through Origin and the Australian teams and you look at the concept of the Indigenous All-Stars and how much momentum that has grown over the last decade.
"It's given the ability for our community to come together and then showcase our ability to play this game.''
The Ipswich Indigenous All-Stars team will be led by former Ipswich Jets representative Kurtis Lingwoodock.
"Kurtis has got a strong history here in Ipswich playing for the Jets and in the 2008 grand final,'' Lacey said. "And also winning the grand final in 2015.
"He's also very prominent in local league. He's a Swifts junior and played a lot of local league footy with his family.
"He's the right pick for us to lead this team.
"He's got a really good connection with this community.''
Lacey said those values and mateship last a lifetime.
"That's the beauty of everyone being around the Ipswich rugby league and the Jets rugby league for a ong time,'' Lacey said.
"We all sort of cross paths and all get to know each other . That's the best thing about what rugby league brings. You form those bonds and you form those friendships with people and they are everlasting.
"Scott, the coach for the other, we played in the grand final together in 2008.
"We don't see each other much any more but every time we do, it's as of we are still running around together. So it's a good feeling.''
The Ipswich All-Stars team will also have Indigenous artwork on their sleeves as they too reflect on how rugby league provides a wonderful platform for everyone to play.
The jerseys will be auctioned off on the day.
The coaches are still finalising teams for the gala day.
Look out for more stories at qt.com.au in coming days.