by Grace Knight
Eight Bull Sharks will take on Australasia’s best in the 2023 Wheelchair Rugby National Championships on Friday.
The competition runs until Sunday, pitting Australian state teams and a team from New Zealand against each other at the Gold Coast Sport and Leisure Centre.
Following Bond’s exceptional performance in the Wheelchair Rugby Australia National League in which they finished second, it was no surprise that the Bull Sharks players received call-ups to represent their respective state teams.
The Bull Sharks coach Ben Newton will also attend the championships as head coach of the Queensland Cyclones.
Competitors who qualified for the Queensland Cyclones division 1 team include Brayden Foxley-Connolly, Ella Sabljak and Michael Ozanne.
Bull Sharks Matt Thompson and Luke Matthews qualified for the division 2 team, the Queensland Tornadoes.
Additionally, Darren Cuomo and Lilliana Prucha will attend the championships to compete for their home team the West Coast Enforcers, as well as Brett Morris who will be playing in the ACT Buccaneers team.
The National Championship is the top event in the Australian domestic wheelchair rugby season and leads into the international season for those selected for the 2023 Australian Steelers team.
Alongside Queensland, there are only three other teams competing in the division 1 category: the NSW Gladiators, Victoria Thunder and New Zealand’s Brand Makers.
Newton is confident in the Cyclones’ ability.
“We’re feeling pretty good heading into this weekend,” he said.
“It’s looking like it will be very competitive but we’re feeling confident and we’ve got as good of a chance as anybody.”
For the athletes who won’t make the Australian Steelers team, the National Championships provide an opportunity to impress selectors for the Australian development squad.