5 familiar faces you (probably) had no idea are plying their trade in Queensland Cup

Drew Darbyshire
Chris McQueen, Riley Dean, Mahe Fonua Queensland Cup Alamy

Chris McQueen (left), Riley Dean (centre) and Mahe Fonua (right) are all playing in the Queensland Cup in 2024

The Queensland Cup season got underway last weekend, featuring a couple of familiar names to Super League supporters.

The Q Cup – now known as the Hostplus Cup for sponsorship reasons – is full of players with plenty of NRL and international experience.

Love Rugby League has taken a a closer look at the league and have identified five former Super League players that have played or are playing in the Queensland Cup this year..

Chris McQueen – Brisbane Tigers

Chris McQueen Huddersfield Giants Alamy

The 36-year-old departed Huddersfield Giants at the end of last season, announcing that he would be hanging up his boots after four years with the Super League club which saw him make 83 appearances, including one in the 2022 Challenge Cup final.

But McQueen has made a u-turn on his retirement decision, joining Brisbane Tigers in the Queensland Cup on a one-year contract, saying he ‘wanted to give something back’ in helping bring through the young talent.

McQueen has made almost 250 career appearances in the NRL and Super League, and also played six times for Queensland in the State of Origin arena as well as earning a solitary cap for England in 2017.

Mahe Fonua – Mackay Cutters

Mahe Fonua Castleford Tigers Alamy

The former Hull FC, Castleford Tigers and Doncaster outside-back has linked up with the Cutters on a two-year deal from 2024.

Fonua spent six seasons of his professional career in England, with four of those coming for Hull FC between 2017 and 2021.

The former Tonga international, who played in the 2013 and 2017 World Cups, will make his Mackay debut in the Q Cup this weekend.

Riley Dean – Mackay Cutters

Riley Dean Warrington Wolves Alamy

The Halifax-born half-back has made the move Down Under for 2024 after putting pen to paper on a one-year contract with the Cutters.

Dean came through Warrington Wolves‘ academy, going on to make 10 first team appearances for the Wire. He also spent time on loan at York, Dewsbury, Newcastle, Featherstone and Castleford.

Dean was born and raised in England and is of Irish heritage. He captained Ireland‘s first-ever Under-16s team and was called up to their senior squad ahead of the 2021 World Cup qualifiers – but has yet to make his debut for the Wolfhounds.

Kenny Edwards – Mackay Cutters

Kenny Edwards Castleford Tigers Alamy

The 34-year-old retired from professional rugby league after leaving Castleford at the end of last season – but he will play on in a part-time environment with the Cutters in 2024.

Edwards helped Catalans Dragons create history in 2018, with the French side winning their first piece of major silverware in the Challenge Cup at Wembley.

The New Zealander made 116 appearances during his time in Super League with Castleford, Catalans and Huddersfield as well as 70 in the NRL with Parramatta.

QUIZ: Can you name the Catalans Dragons side that won the Challenge Cup in 2018?

Jake Clifford – Northern Pride

Jake Clifford Hull FC Alamy

The former Hull FC half-back returned to the NRL with North Queensland Cowboys in the off-season, being part of their first team squad for 2024.

Clifford featured for Northern Pride in the opening round of the 2024 Queensland Cup campaign, with the Pride being a feeder club for the Cowboys. He will likely continue to play for the Pride until he is called upon by Cowboys coach Todd Payten.

Clifford made 26 appearances during his sole season with Hull FC in Super League in 2023, scoring six tries and kicking 54 goals. He has played 67 games under his belt in the NRL for Newcastle Knights and the Cowboys.

The Australian playmaker has been named in the Pride squad ahead of their Round 2 clash against McQueen’s Brisbane Tigers this weekend.

Honourable mentions

There are a couple of more names that British rugby league fans might be familiar with in the Queensland Cup.. Former Featherstone Rovers duo Ryley Jacks and Arama Hau are currently plying their trade with Brisbane Tigers and Ipswich Jets respectively.

Former Sheffield Eagles and Toronto Wolfpack half-back Rhys Jacks is currently with the Jets, and former Newcastle Thunder star Matthew Wright is representing the Townsville Blackhawks.

READ NEXT: Every British-born player to have graced the NRL since inaugural 1998 season