2023 Queensland Rugby Challenger Series Squads Announced with new law innovations approved

Tue, Sep 5, 2023, 5:55 AM
by Queensland Rugby Media Unit

The Queensland Reds Development XV and Queensland Premier Rugby Challenger XV squads have been announced ahead of this month’s Queensland Rugby Challenger Series, which will feature an aligned women’s program for the first time.

Following the success of last year’s iteration, the Challenger Series will also feature several law innovations once again in-place across the two-game series.

Coaches for the four teams have also been finalised.

The squads are headlined by Bond University outside back Rhian Stowers who claimed the 2023 Alec Evans Medal as the best player in the StoreLocal Hospital Cup. Similarly, Sunnybank’s Ana Afuie – the 2023 Selena Worsley Medallist – has also been named and is set to line-up as one of five club representatives in the Reds Women’s Development XV.

In the Men’s ranks, 14 club prospects have been named in the Reds Development squad including Stowers, his Bond teammate Lochie Connors, GPS flanker Matt Gicquel and Easts back Meli Dreu.

Brothers’ rich vein of form in the second half of the StoreLocal Hospital Cup, which included six straight wins to claim the Premiership, has been rewarded with large representation across both men’s squads. Prop Jaiden Christian, lock Brad Kapa and backrower Noah Nielson have been named in the Queensland Rugby Challenger XV squad.

Bond trio Mel Wilks, Eva Karpani and Dianna Waight are among the names selected in the Reds Women’s Development XV while Easts outside back Piper Flynn – the top points scorer in the 2023 QPR Premier Women competition - is one of eight Tigers named in the Challenger XV.

Reds fans will have the opportunity to see new prop signing Jeffery Toomaga-Allen in action for the first time alongside a host of Reds regulars including Lawson Creighton, Josh Flook and Sef Fa’agase.

Regional Queensland is represented across all squads, with a third (32.4 per cent) of all players chosen hailing from a vast array of regions across the state including the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Dalby, Esk and northern Queensland.

Incoming Queensland Reds head coach Les Kiss will take charge of his first unofficial game, leading the Reds Development XV alongside assistants Cian O’Connor (Souths), Liam Wright (Easts) and Jock Campbell (UQ) – the latter pair who join as coaches while completing injury rehab.

Kiss said: “The Challenger Series provides club rugby players with the opportunity to play at the next level while also offering the Reds squad valuable playing time to build cohesion ahead of the 2024 Super Rugby season.”

“Last year, 12 players who featured in the men’s Challenger Series went on to make their Queensland Reds debut and I’m looking forward to seeing who stakes their claim this year.”

Wests head coach Elwee Prinsloo will take charge of the Challenger XV with his coaching staff including Elton Berrange (UQ), Scott Higginbotham (ACGS) and Paul Brown (GPS).

Prinsloo said: “The Challenger Series gives our club players a chance to shine on a bigger stage. It's where local talent can become Super Rugby players and where our rugby community comes together to see new stars emerge.”

Simon Craig (Easts) will coach the Reds Women Development XV with his team comprising of Shannon Parry, Moses Rauluni (Easts) and Sione Fukofuka.

Craig said: “It’s great to see our Premier Women aligned in the Challenger Series for the first time.”

“Over the next three weeks, our women’s players will have the best opportunity to come together in an elite environment which will no doubt aid in furthering their development moving forward.”

The Women’s Challenger XV will be led by David Baldwin (Souths) with assistants Tony Wall (Brothers) and Matthew Bennett (Souths).

Baldwin said: “The Challenger Series is a fantastic initiative from the QRU that continues the development of similar initiates in recent years for women’s rugby and I am really excited about the opportunity that the series presents.”

In a bid to increase ball-in-play time, several innovations have been approved by World Rugby for the series.

The use of a ‘shot clock’ to manage time wastage on set pieces and rucks will be implemented. Other measures aimed at mitigating referee dissent will also be trialled including a 20m advancement of the penalty mark, and yellow card for reoccurring team offenses.

The two-game series will be played at Ballymore Stadium on Sunday September 17 and Sunday September 24.

Queensland Rugby Challenger Series

Game One: Sunday, September 17

1:15pm: Queensland Reds Development XV v QPR Challenger XV (Women)

3:05pm: Queensland Reds Development XV v QPR Challenger XV (Men) Ballymore Stadium

Game Two: Sunday, September 24

1:15pm: Queensland Reds Development XV v QPR Challenger XV (Men)

3:05pm: Queensland Reds Development XV v QPR Challenger XV (Women) Ballymore Stadium

Queensland Premier Rugby Challenger XV

Head Coach: Elwee Prinsloo (Wests)

Assistants: Elton Berrange (UQ), Scott Higginbothan (ACGS), Paul Brown (GPS)


Phransis Sula-Siaosi – Souths

George Francis – Souths

Jaiden Christian – Brothers

Harrison Usher – Bond University

Ben Murphy – Souths

Moli Sooaemalelagi – Bond University

Ollie Bartlett – GPS

Brad Kapa – Brothers

Adam Korcyzk – UQ

Jack Brady - UQ

Ratu Vio Batabasaga – GPS

Sean Farrel – Souths

Kohan Herbert – Souths

Connor Higgins - Norths


Cullin Cooper-Jones – Wests

Willem Johnstone – Souths

Jake Pappin – Easts

Tyler Campbell – Bond

Chris Kuridrani – GPS

Pio Nakubwai – Easts

Charlie Tupou – Wests

Shane Kennedy – Easts

Veresa Mataitini – GPS

Ben Navosailagi – Wests

Cooper Whiteside – Wests

Queensland Reds Development XV

Head Coach: Les Kiss

Assistants: Cian O’Connor (Souths), Liam Wright (Reds/Easts), Jock Campbell (Reds/UQ)


George Blake – Bond University

Sef Fa’agase – Sunnybank

Jefferey Toomaga-Allen – Norths

Dane Zander – UQ

Baguilo Johnson-Tiumalu – Wests

Rhys Sheriff – Bond University

Josh Nasser – UQ

Max Craig – Easts

Will Sankey – Easts

Tana Wilson – Brothers

Christopher Minimbi – UQ

Connor Anderson – Wests

John Bryant – Souths

Lochie Connors – Bond

Matt Gicquel – GPS


Spencer Jeans – Bond University

Louis Werchon – Wests

Lawson Creighton – Brothers

Harry McLaughlin-Phillips – Souths

Josh Flook – Brothers

Shuan Anderson – GPS

Matt Smit – Easts

Mac Grealy – UQ

Tim Ryan – Brothers

Jordan Carera – Easts

Connor Chittenden – Norths

Meli Dreu – Easts

Rhian Stowers – Bond University

Queensland Premier Rugby Women Challenger XV

Head Coach: David Baldwin (Souths)

Assistants: Tony Wall (Brothers), Matthew Bennett (Souths)


Tina Brown – Easts

Brooke Savelio – UQ

Nina Poletti – Brothers

Nena Williamson – UQ

Rosie Ebbage – Easts

Emiliya Byrne – GPS

Megan Prinsloo – UQ

Vei Koloamatangi – Souths

Asi Mafi – Souths

Mary Tuanna – Souths

Roni Setu – UQ

Leonia Tualangi – Sunnybank

Allana Sikimeti – Wests

Amelia Brown – GPS

Maggie McConnachie – ACT, Uni-Norths Owls

Luana Tongia – Sunnybank

Shannon Symon – Easts

Michelle Dreu - Easts


Maggie Glassock – Easts

Loretta Lialiifano – Easts

Georgie Wilson – Souths

Rebecca Davidson – Brothers

Gemma Lawrence – Wests

Kalisi Logopoa – Sunnybank

Taleah Ackland – Toowoomba Bears

Leka Tuanna – Souths

Michella Curry – Wests

Queensland Reds Women Development XV

Head Coach: Simon Craig (Reds/Easts)

Assistants: Moses Rauluni (Reds/Easts), Shannon Parry, Sione Fukofuka (Wallaroos/Reds)


Bree-Anna Cheatham – Wests

Tiarna Molloy – Easts

Eva Karpani – Bond University

Deni Ross – Wests

Annabelle Codey – Easts

Haidee Head – Easts

Carola Kries – Souths

Kaipo Olsen Baker – Brothers

Madi Schuck – Easts

Cristo Tofa – Easts

Therea Soloai – Easts

Aleena Greenhagh – Wests

Hanna Lane – GPS

Joana Rabaka – Sunnybank


Sarah Lewis – GPS

Carys Dallinger – Easts

Ivania Wong – Sunnybank

Cecelia Smith – Sunnybank

Mel Wilks – Bond University

Alana Elisaia – Wests

Renae Nona – Sunnybank

Ana Afuie – Sunnybank

Ellie Draper – Souths

Dianna Waight – Bond University

Meg Jakins – Roma Echidnas

Queensland Rugby Challenger Series Law Innovations

Time compliance

  • Use of a shot clock on set plays (goal kick, penalty goal, scrum, line out)
  • Additional referee required to manage initiating timer
  • Use of a hooter applied when team exceeds time limit
  • Addition of a 45-second restart following goal kick
  • Free kick for non-compliance at point of restart.


  • Greater focus on effort to roll easts or wests
  • Players can be sanctioned for intentionally preventing players from rolling
  • No players can join attacking ruck one referee calls ‘use it’
  • Free kick for non-compliance


  • Teams cannot add numbers to a maul established from a lineout

Advantage Law

  • Advantage over is adjudicated following four phases of play, significant line-break or executed kick with positive outcome


  • A mark can be taken anywhere inside a team’s own half
  • Knockdown
  • No intentional knock down

Referee Dissent

  • 20m advancement of penalty mark
  • Dissent inside attack 22m allows for penalty option in front of posts
  • Reoccurring dissents results in a yellow card