Fortescue Premier Grade - Round 1 Preview

Fri, Apr 19, 2024, 2:00 AM
Rugby WA Media
by Rugby WA Media

The 2024 Fortescue Premier Grade season kicks off this Saturday. 

The whistle will blow on Saturday for the opening round of the 2024 Fortescue Premier Grade, with eleven teams facing off for the first time since September 2023. 

“We’re thrilled to be back for what is sure to be another brilliant season of rugby,” RugbyWA CEO Simon Taylor remarked. “It’s a fantastic time of year, seeing rugby and our community in WA thrive and our best teams compete against one another.” 

For the first time in 2024, the Fortescue Premier Grade will have a new structure, which aims to provide more opportunities for clubs to participate in competitive matches and to progress to the finals series, whilst prioritising player welfare. 

“Our Fortescue Premier Grade teams show the sheer amount of talent present within rugby in the state, and we’re looking forward to seeing them all shine.”  

“We wish all teams the best of luck heading into this new season!” 


Last season’s Premiers, Palmyra, will be looking for a chance to start off strong, facing off against Southern Lions in Success in Round 1. Palmyra Head Coach, Darren Reed, knows their status as reigning Champions makes them a target heading into this season.   

"But that's for other teams to worry about,” he remarked. 

"I don't want my guys worrying about last year. And I don't want them stressing about September.  Right now, we need to get Thursday practice right. That's literally all that matters." 

"After that, we have Southern Lions on Saturday. They are always dangerous and at their home ground, that's a serious challenge." 

The last time the two clubs met was in early August of 2023, with Palmyra defeating Southern Lions 51-5. 


Heading into the season, Reed is looking forward to working with his team again. 

"We've retained most of the key players from last year and have a few exciting new additions. It honestly just a genuinely good group of people and helping them become better rugby players is a privilege,” he shared. 

"I learn as much from them as they might from me." 

"I'm as interested to find out as anyone [how the team is looking]! Preseason games can be very misleading. You never know until you kick off where you are. We've put in good work at training, but we are keen to test ourselves in our first game." 

Following a tough offseason, the team is looking to evolve from their struggles and aim for success. 

"Every team goes through a period where they struggle with injuries, player absences through work or just internal admin issues. We aren't immune to that. Hopefully we have had ours and the rugby gods give us a smooth ride the rest of the year!" 

"... Over the last few weeks, you can really see the core guys focusing in. Once the season kicks off, all those minor little issues fade into the background, and everyone just gets focused on winning. All the little nuisances that seemed super important during preseason are trivial once you know a ball will be kicked in earnest on Saturday." 

As to facing the challenge of retaining their Premiership title and making 2024 a repeat of their previous season -  

"If you look up at the mountain peak from base camp it can be overwhelming. All of a sudden, your warm, cosy tent and your sleeping bag seem pretty attractive. But if you just put one foot in front of the next and have a bit of dog in you that can get you through the tough days, with a bit of luck you are planting your flag on the summit." 


The 2024 season will be Southern Lions’ chance to fight for the finals, after narrowly missing out last season.  

“The Squad is really excited for the first game this week, especially having first crack at last year's Premiers,” Coach, Greg Jacksom said. “It will be a good challenge for the team to see where we are standing. We still have key personnel to come in off other competitions and injury, but the coaching group is confident that the 23 on Saturday can finish the job.” 

“We have been working hard on creating a lot of depth throughout our squad. We traditionally have a good 1-15 but we taper away after that.  

“This is driving competitiveness for spots amongst the team. We have spent a lot of time on areas of our game where we have needed improvement from last year and the trials.” 

In the offseason, the Southern Lions’ team had the chance to build upon and grow their connections, fueling their drive heading into the 2024 Season. 

“The core of the team built a good culture and bond whilst in France at the Amateur World Cup. This gave us a lot of drive and hunger to work hard for each other.” 

“I’m excited for that to feed into this year and with the new guys around the squad, we hope to come out on the right side of the tight games this year.” 

Southern Lions v. Palmyra will be streamed live on Stan, kicking off at 2.00PM at Success Regional Sporting Facility. 


At HBF Park, Kalamunda will face off against Cottesloe as the Curtain Raiser for the Western Force v. Crusaders match at 3.05PM.  

For one member of the Cottesloe Premier Grade team, Round 1 marks a special occasion – his 250th Cap for the club. Hooker Mike Walker will don the Cottesloe jersey for the 250th time as he runs out in front of the crowd at HBF Park. 

Having moved from the United Kingdom to Perth with his family in 2010, Walker joined Cottesloe at 17, playing in the U18’s team before progressing into Colts the follow year. 

“Having played all grades throughout my time at Cottesloe, including a single game for the mighty 5th grade, I've enjoyed a long run in both 1st and 2nd grade over the last 7-8 years,” Walker said. 

Other highlights Walker identified include, “... Captaining 2nd Grade in back-to-back Championships in 2019 and 2020, as well as being an integral member of the Premier Grade team in 2019 and 2020.” 

In 2023, Walker was part of the team that claimed the Reserves Championship, where he also claimed the MVP Award for the game. 

Rugby and Cottesloe hold a special place in Walker’s heart, after so many years involved in the game and playing on Broome Street. 

“Having played rugby since I was 5 years old, it is ingrained in my life with many fond memories.” 

“I am honoured to have been able to play so many games for such a great club like Cottesloe, and a milestone of 250 games is something I never thought I would achieve.” 

“I couldn't have achieved this special feat without the support of so many special people throughout my time at the club, along with many great people, who I am honoured to call friends. There are far too many people to thank personally but would like to extend my gratitude to all those involved at the club, for making Cottesloe Rugby such a special place for me, and many others.” 

“Pulling on the blue jersey is a privilege, and I hope to continue doing so. I play for the love of the game, and I am extremely lucky that the game has given me so much back. Cottesloe has become a second home, with those there considered extended family.” 

“I'm looking forward to pulling on the jersey for the 250th time this weekend and giving my all, as I try to do every time I step onto the field.” 

Mike Walker and the team at Cottesloe will face off against Kalamunda this Saturday, with the game kicking off at 3.05PM at HBF Park. 


Championship and Community Grade are set to begin next weekend, on April 27. 



Southern Lions v. Palmyra @ Success Regional Sporting Facility – Streamed live on Stan 

Nedlands v. Perth Bayswater @ Sir Charles Court Reserve – Streamed live on Rugby Xplorer 

Wests Scarborough v. Wanneroo @ Bennett Park 

Associates v. UWA @ Allen Park 

Kalamunda v. Cottesloe @ HBF Park – Curtain Raiser for Western Force v. Crusaders