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NSW co-captains want to end Maroons dominance

Three years is a long time and it means CABE NSW Wheelchair Rugby League team co-captains Brad Grove and Diab Karim have had enough.

They lead the 10-strong NSW team to Brisbane this weekend to retrieve the interstate shield from Queensland in the 2024 Cocoon SDA Care Wheelchair State Challenge at South Pine Sports Centre on Saturday (13 July).

Queensland won 42-26 in July last year and were also successful in 2022 (49-24) and 2021 (50-30).

“The last three years of losing, you go through those emotions again of going back home without the shield,” Karim told

“You’re constantly thinking about what you can change next year.

“We have definitely bonded as a group this past year – grown together, learned together. I feel there’s more trust and belief in ourselves.

“And we’ve got Craig (Cannane) back again, which is a big plus, and my younger brother Moey (Chemaissem) back after a couple of years is another boost.

“Last year we just didn’t communicate well. We have got the points in us but we couldn’t get our attack to chime in together.”

Cannane had eye surgery last year and missed the annual interstate game. But he’s been to three World Cups and can add a decade-long association with the sky Blues jersey to that.

“Definitely happy he’s back. He’s a big benefit to us because he’s been at the top level for such a long time,” said Grove (pictured above), who like Karim has been on the Australian team with Cannane.

“He brings such a level of passion with his game.

“It’s been a while since we’ve won and this year I think is the most experienced side – no debutants this time so that should help us,” Grove said.

“We’ve pretty much gone back to the basics and it starts with preparation and defence.

“We know we can attack when we need to.”

As for how the co-captains will divide responsibilities on the field, Karim and Grove have a good yin-yang thing going.

“I let Brad do the talking, I’m more of the action guy. He’s more the calm, collected one that talks to the referees, and I’m more the fiery one,” Karim said.

And as for what would raising the interstate shield mean after three straight losses?

“Wow … just thinking of that gives me goosebumps,” he said.

“It would mean pride, happiness, job well done.”

The match will be live-streamed via on Saturday.

The NSW team: Cory Cannane, Craig Cannane, Zac Carl, Moey Chemaissem, Rick Engles, Brad Crove (co-captain), Edge Iole, Diab Karim (co-captain), Liam Luff, Toby Popple. Coach: Edie George

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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