2017 QLD Premier Rugby Season Preview: Bond University
Last year: 5th (8 wins, 42 points)
Ins: Joel Brown (Wests).
Outs: Gus Qasavakatini (retired), Waylen Skipps (NPC, NZ), TJ Siakisini (UQ), Josh Fuimaono (retired).
Overview with Sean Hedger:
“We haven’t had the best off-season, we’ve had a lot of guys leave the club. Guys who were at that club rugby retirement age in their twenties when their career and families are starting to take up more time,” Hedger said.
“Then we had a few others who didn’t think they were getting representative opportunities with the Queensland NRC teams so they’ve moved to play overseas or in Sydney.
“We’ve had a bit of a changing of the guard so we’ll have a very young group this year, which is exciting in some ways because we had such a strong colts program last year and a lot of those guys are ready to step up into Premier Grade.
“We’ve also got six players in the QLD U20s, one playing with the Melbourne U20s and three playing under 20s over in WA. Unfortunately, we won’t see a lot of those guys until much later this year after the Australian U20s program is over and while it’s great to see them doing well, it does weaken our program but that’s the way Australian rugby is structured.
“We’re trying to implement a slightly different attacking game plan this year. It’s probably a little more inline with the way the Super Rugby and NRC franchises are playing. We’ll spread our forwards right across the field and that will change our attacking structure.
“The good thing about having a strong colts program is that we’ve got a lot of good, enthusiastic young players ready for an opportunity at Premier Rugby, so it will exciting to watch some of them.
“We’ll have a very young colts group this year. I think we’ll have more 17 or 18-year olds than 19-year olds this year across the two grades, so we should have the majority of them for two years. They’ve got Geoff Townsend coaching them, he’s very experienced so I think he’ll do a good job.”
Key areas of improvement:
“Our biggest issue last year was our scrum. Our scrum leaked points, our scrum leaked penalties and our scrum caused yellow and red cards.
“We knew we could back ourselves in general play against just about any team in the comp, without playing overly expansive rugby, but we’ve lost a lot of those guys this year.
“If we can fix up our scrum, we’ll be in with a chance.
“We also need to improve our field control. We tend to get a little too excited and try to attack from anywhere, so I think we can control that a little better.”
Player/s to watch:
“Tye Ford came on really well at the back end of last year. I think he’ll be in for a big year, he stepped up into Premier Grade really well.
“I expect Mitch Third to be a real general and to steer us around the paddock. I thought he was very hard done by with NRC selections last year, he should have got a lot more NRC time, so he’ll be out to prove a point.”
Expectations for the season:
“We need to make the semi finals. Once you’ve made the playoffs, it’s a completely different season and anything can happen from then on.
“Like I said before, if we can get parity at set piece time, I think we can be competitive with everyone else in the comp.”
Who will your team play in the grand final?
“I think Sunnybank will be the big improvers in the competition this year. Everyone is tipping UQ and Brothers, but I think Sunnybank are going to surprise everyone, they’ve recruited really well.
“Easts had an off year last year, Wests have done a lot of recruitment and they’ve got a new facility. Jeeps had an off year last year and they’ve recruited heavily, they’ve got five players from the Perth Spirit team that won the NRC last year. Norths have also recruited massively from other Brisbane clubs so they’ll be strong.
“I don’t think there will be any easy games this year.”