Both teams will begin a playing phase from this week, taking on South Australia in one-day practice games.

The Bulls take on the Redbacks today and Thursday at Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast while the Fire will play the Scorpions at Allan Border Field on Friday and Sunday.

A 30km hike from Albion to Baden-Powell Park at Samford, followed by an evening of improv acting and challenges, met the theme of “performing under pressure” perfectly last week.

It followed on from a busy winter program that included the Bulls Big Week, featuring work with charity partner Foodbank, a match against the Australian Blind Cricket team played under simulated match conditions and a boxing program.

The Fire had an action-packed Sunshine Coast camp that featured an Amazing race format between four teams, beach hikes and Mt Coolum climb, as well as a quest to achieve “Random Acts of Kindness” across the weekend.

The Fire players followed a theme of “the little things matter” during their camp with team and individual challenges geared around that.

Bulls coach Wade Seccombe and Fire coach Ashley Noffke agreed that the offbeat elements of the off-season would pay dividends further down the track.

“I’m know ‘Noffers” would agree with me, but on top of all the hard physical work we get the players to put in, there is an element where we try to take them out of their comfort zone and assess and act in situations that challenge their thinking,’’ he said.

“In the Bulls’ case, the rookie players went west to directly witness the impact the drought is having on farms and communities, as well as contributing their labour to help out those in need. And along the way, they got to know their teammates a bit better and themselves.”

“The Queensland players started their pre-season working in the charity space with Foodbank, but outside of our usual nets and conditioning, we had them tackle improv acting. It was a bit of fun for them and for the coaches, but the underlying element was to challenge the individuals and get them to understand how they can perform better under pressure.”

“We’re all keen to play some cricket now, which is another bonus, so hopefully this keeps our players fresh and ready for the start of the season,’’ Seccombe said.

The Bulls opened their playing phase today with a win over the Redbacks, courtesy of an unbeaten Matthew Renshaw century.

Renshaw finished 101 not out from 108 balls as Queensland scored 8-195 from 40.3 overs after early restricting SA to 9-194.Spinners Matt Kuhnemann (4-35, 10 overs) and Mitch Swepson (3-36, 9 overs) led the charge with the ball.