by Jessica Lamb
Rugby League: For the second consecutive year, there was a tie for the annual Sam Faust Memorial Shield between the Whitsunday Brahmans and Townsville Central Tigers.
This time the first trial game of 2018 finished with 18-all draw.
After a late change of venue, the game turned into "bit of a scrap match” battling weather and mud but that didn't stop Sam Faust's two former clubs playing "hard and fair”, which Whitsunday Brahmans coach Sam Keys said was a testament to the player Sam had been.
Keys said the match had become the go-to trial to see where the side was approaching the new season.
"I'm extremely confident: Going there with an under- strength side, in weather we played - we came away with more positives than negatives,” he said.
This will be Keys' first season as head coach. He was assistant coach last year and had an extensive coaching career down south.
"The whole reason I'm sticking around is to go back-to-back. We have tried to do it before and failed in the past,” he said.
"Every team is out to get us as number one: Our squad from previous years remains pretty much the same.
"We have a similar nucleus to what we had in previous years and I'd like to say we are the same Whitsunday underdogs - but, after the last grand final, we might not be able to say that any more.”
The Brahmans' new uniforms will be unveiled on March 9 at the season launch upstairs at the Metropole Hotel where the players will celebrate continuing and new sponsors who are the "lifeblood of the club”.
The next day the Whitsunday Brahmans will travel to Bowen for their next big test at the annual Bowen 10s tournament.
Seven days later, on March 17, the 2018 season will kicks off with a grand final rematch at home.