July 26, 2023
The South Burnett Thrashers must win a sudden-death final on Saturday if they hope to keep their 2023 Grand Final hopes alive.
Unfortunately, after their July 15 loss followed by a tough game this week against competition leaders St George, the Thrashers finished the season in third spot on the ladder.
They notched up 10 wins and just four losses during the regular season.
The last round was played on Saturday at the University of Southern Queensland in Toowoomba.
“It was not the end of the season we would have liked. We went down 46-19,” club president Jamie Shirlaw said.
“St George played well and wanted it more than we did.
“Mike (Bishop) and the team will be working hard at training to make sure that we are ready for the Elimination Final against Dalby this Saturday.
“We have won both games against Dalby this year, but that doesn’t mean anything come Finals time.
“They will have a lot to prove and we need to show that we deserve to be in the finals.
“We were knocked out in the Elimination Final last year. Our players do not want to feel that hurt again.”
The game will be played on the lower oval at Gold Park in Toowoomba from 12:40pm on Saturday.
South Burnett supporters have been urged to make the trip to Toowoomba to support the Thrashers in their must-win game.
* * *
Apisalome “Biss” Waqatabu is longing for the glory of winning the Grand Final of the Bill Flamsteed competition.
“It takes a lot of hard work and effort throughout the season to make it to the knockout rounds,” he said.
Biss is just one of the Thrashers who are working in Australia under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme.
In 2023, the Thrashers is made up almost exclusively of Fijians, Samoans, Papua New Guineans and Solomon Islanders.
Club president Jamie Shirlaw said that after the club’s player base nearly dried up in 2013, the arrival of the PALM workers in Kingaroy had helped revive the club both on and off the field.
“The club has thrived since the PALM workers joined. They’ve significantly improved the club culture, and their successes on-field saw us to the finals last year and again this year,” Jamie said.
“It’s great to see the players singing together at the end of the game and showing respect for the other side, you see them express pride for their culture and for their community.”
Mark Laki, from Samoa who plays inside centre, says playing for the Thrashers has made his downtime from his job at Swickers meatworks in Kingaroy more fulfilling.
“It gives us something to look forward to after work and builds spirit within our local Pacific Islander community,” he said.
The PALM workers are hopeful they can bring home a victory for the community that has given them a second home in Australia.
“It’s important to give something back and make the local community proud,” Mark said.