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The experience of last year’s brilliant Mackay Confraternity Carnival has primed powerhouse St Patrick’s College for another run towards the finals when the 2023 event begins this weekend.

St Patrick’s will bring its girls’ and boys’ squads to Brisbane featuring many of the players who took both teams to grand finals before huge home crowds in last year’s event in Mackay.

The boys’ team will be without two of its brightest stars – Xavier Kerrisk and Jaxon Purdue will be preparing to represent Queensland in the national schools championships – but they remain one of the teams to beat after a strong start to their season.

About half of the girls’ squad played last year and took enormous benefit from a grand final loss to Marymount College, Burleigh Heads.

“Last year was such a great experience for our players,” St Patrick’s assistant principal Scott McSherry said.

“We have a huge amount of community support last year– hosting the 2022 carnival really established that.

“Confro is the highlight for our players. Nothing brings out School spirit like Confro. Our staff have over 50 Confros between them and will always keep coming back.”

The girls’ team will be guided by debut head coach Imogen Healy who takes over from former Sunshine Coast Falcons player Jake Harney. Ms Healy is an accomplished coach for the Wanderers Junior Rugby League Club and captain for the Mackay Brothers Women’s A Grade team.

Mrs Healy will lead an experienced squad on their quest for silverware that includes Paityne Johns and four of her Capricornia representative teammates.

After making the grand final in the inaugural year for the girls’ competition, the team has used that momentum to kickstart their 2023 season, winning the local schoolgirls’ competition and defeating Ryan Catholic College in a handful of trial games.

“Sneaking into the the first ever Confro girls final, we came up against a strong Marymount who narrowly ran out winners in the grand final,” Mr McSherry said.

“Confro is and excellent opportunity to showcase schoolgirls rugby league. School competitions are few and far between with the Karen Murphy Cup a nine-a-side competition, and the National Schoolgirls Cup a knockout. Confro is the highlight of the year for our girls and the reason why they play the game.”

A familiar rugby league name returns to the coaching ranks for the St Patrick’s boys’ team with Ian Schifilliti taking over from Michael Comerford, who is now coaching the Mackay Cutters in the Queensland Cup. Ian is the brother of former NRL player Dean and comes to Confro with an extensive coaching record.

Mr Schifilliti has guided the boys through an undefeated run in the Aaron Payne Cup, overcoming the 2022 Confraternity Carnival Shield Champions Ignatius Park College 22-10 in the first round.

Only seven players will make their Confro debut in Brisbane, surrounded by a veteran group who remembers how it felt to fall short in two grand finals last year – both to Ignatius Park.

The girls’ and boys’ team committed to a rigorous training regimen at the start of the season – two field and two gym sessions per week – with a strong focus on strength, conditioning and quality rehab.

Both teams are in peak condition and excited for a week of competition.

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