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Footy players come to rescue amid backpacker shortage

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Footy players come to rescue amid backpacker shortage

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Now this is teamwork! Footy players come to rescue amid backpacker shortage

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A rugby league team has come to the rescue of a Sunshine Coast nursery business facing a severe labour shortage.

Beerwah-based Hedging & Screening needed to place 180 tonnes of blocks for its state-of-the-art facility, used for the production of instant sized hedging plants.

But the COVID-19 pandemic drastically reduced the availability of international backpackers.

Owner Jeff Geldard said there were only three full-time staff at the nursery and placing the blocks would have taken many weeks without temporary mass supplemental workers.

He said he normally could rely on a backpacker centre at Maroochydore to find temporary workers, but with the number of young overseas visitors seriously depleted by COVID, he found help from the local Beerwah Bulldogs rugby league team. 

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“We have more than 9000 blocks to move and each block weighs almost 20 kilos so having just three of us to do the job would have killed us,” he said. 

“Hedging and screening is an on-line nursery that delivers as far south as Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast is a great growing location for the facility.

“We need these blocks in place to support our large hedging plants. I can normally rely on backpackers to come for a week or so but with that option unavailable I had to think outside the square, so I approached the Beerwah Bulldogs.

“Fortunately, the Bulldogs’ women’s team came to our rescue. They have been fantastic and they looked upon this as a team bonding exercise and giving something back to the community.”

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“They have been able to shift around 2000 blocks a morning and we will get the job finished before the end of the month. We are now sponsoring the club thanks to the efforts of the players and we host a barbecue lunch for them every day.”  

Bulldogs open women’s co-coach and manager Glenn Tomokino said up to 15 players a day had been helping to place the blocks at the nursery.

“This a great thing for our women players to have been involved in to support the community and an important local business and the sponsorship we received has helped pay for player registrations,” he said.

“It’s a win-win for all concerned.”

Find out more about Hedging & Screening at hedgingandscreening.com.au 

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