36th Column


As the Yarrabah Sea Hawks closed the deal on Cairns Brothers on the weekend, in the Cairns District Rugby League Prelim Final, Innisfail Head Coach Leon Hallie was just sitting back waiting for the inevitable that is this weekend’s Grand Final between his guys and the Guyala. 

The 2021 CDRL A-Grade Grand Final should be one of the best in recent season, and here is why! Yarrabah will be hard to beat because they are so unpredictable. But if there is a team out there that can go with them and punish them hard, then I think the Leps have their number. Yarrabah may have speed, but the Leps have size, so this GF on Saturday night is between two teams who deserve to be there. 

People rarely get a look into the Coach’s world of footy, they keep themselves informed through anyone’s hype by trying to keep a lid on how to beat teams every week. Now in his thirteenth or so year of coaching A-Grade footy, it should come as no surprise that the man has figured out a way of getting the best out of his players. Past and present players speak highly of him, he barely has a circle of friends, and he never gets on board with the garbage talk that many of us find. Leon Hallie first arrived in Australia back in 2003 as a player for the Tully Tigers, in which he started to build a reputation as a no nonsense forward. Then, in 2006, he took the coaching gig of the A-Grade Tigers where he brought them to the finals four years in a row, in which I happened to be a superstar player, until finally winning a Premiership in 2010. 

After have a break from Rugby League, the call came once again when the Tigers made the finals two years in a row under his watch from 2013-15. After his second successful stint with the Tigers, the Northern Pride came knocking for his services and he helped guide a group of their very talented young men onto bigger and brighter footy careers that shaped some great players in the north. After seeing his success over two decades, the Innisfail Leprechauns knew that they had to get Leon on board to help bring a winning culture back to Calendar Park. 

With Leon at the helm, he has become the longest serving Tigers Coach in history, and now with his role at Innisfail, I do not see the great mentor slowing down anytime soon, and he will take the proud Leps Club to greater heights. 

I see how he interacts with his players and staff, but it is his simple message that never gets old. Many people see a face that is not very welcoming, but once you get to know the man, he actually loves a good yarn. Our lives crossed 17 years ago when I was the head foreman of his Bell Injecting crew out at Echo Creek (ok, I wasn’t the head foreman), but it was a friendship that would last a lifetime. We became what many people working on bananas become, and that is not much when you are having fun. We played footy together, shared to many beers together, coached, and we even laughed, and he became my mate. 

When I see him achieving so much in the game, we rarely talk about it, but I can say that he deserves every good thing that comes his way in life. This weekend, I really do hope the Innisfail Leprechauns get the win, and I hope all of the Cassowary Coast get behind them to bring home the trophy. Why, you ask? Because I know my best mate Leon Halie will have deserved it.

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