2018 QLD Premier Rugby Season Preview: Brothers

After winning the 2016 premiership, a new look and less experienced Brothers outfit struggled to find their best last year and missed the playoffs.

But Carl Marshall’s side is a year older heading into 2018 and following the return of a few big names, could be on track to play a role at the back end of the season again this year.

Overview with Carl Marshall:

“We’ve been working the boys really hard through preseason, both physically and in regards to out attack, defence and breakdown structures. It’s been a really good preseason and I think the boys are ready to go,” Marshall said.

“Last year was a real transition year. Obviously we lost a lot of players after the grand final win and we ended up using four or five 18 and 19-year old kids playing in Premier Grade. Then we had three season ending injuries to senior players so it was a fairly turbulent year. Throw in me going away with the Australian U20s, it made things pretty difficult.

“Taking all that into account, I think it was a fairly successful season. The games we did lose were only by a few points and we weren’t too far off making the top four at the end. We were also able to develop quite a few young players.

“It was a little tough to maintain that intensity after winning the comp in 2016. Obviously the hunger was there prior to that and it can be tough to keep that hunger level up the whole time.

“We’re really excited to see Luke Beauchamp and Dallan Murphy play their 100th game for Brothers this weekend. Luke has been there since 2010 and has been with the club ever since. He’s had a tough run of injuries and has had to wait over a year to play his 100th game so that’s really exciting. He reflects and shows all the behaviours and the culture that we’re all about.

“Dallan obviously is a similar story. He came through Brothers and played at a professional level, went overseas and since he’s been back he’s had a tough time with his knee. He’s all about Brothers, he wants to play here and 100 caps at our club is a really big thing.

“The leadership that they show will have a huge impact on our side this year. Dallan obviously knows his way around a footy field and can lead and organise the younger guys. When things go wrong, it’s those two that are usually able to find a solution and communicate it really well to the rest of the group. Luke is the kind of player that makes as many tackles as he can, then will get up off the ground and keep going. He’s the guy cleaning the dressing sheds after the game and is always the last to leave and I think that shows what he is all about.

“Last year was the first time Brothers missed the playoffs since 2007 so the hunger is certainly back. Particularly when you look at how strong the club is. I think it was us and one other side last year that didn’t make finals, so the hunger is definitely there.”

2017 result: 5th (6 wins, 9 losses)

Ins: Bradford Kappa (West Harbour), Harry Wilson (Australian Schoolboys), Alex Gibbon (Southern Districts), Paul Ah Him (Wests).

Outs: Ted Postal (Sydney Uni), Emmanuel Meafu (Warringah).

Key areas of improvement:

“I think set piece is the big one at Brothers this year. Both scrum and lineout. We need stability in our scrum so we can get clean ball, then we need to be clinical at line out time,” Marshall said.

“We need clean ball to attack off because Brothers rugby, our attack and defence is usually pretty handy, we just need to get the set piece right.

“Set piece has become hugely important in Premier Rugby, particularly when you can build a game plan around it like Jeeps did last year. They dominated with their scrum, earned penalties, then had a handy kicker and were able to move the ball down the field without any risk and then could use their driving maul. Mentally and psychologically, that transcended into other parts of their game.

“That’s what sport is all about, taking advantage of your strengths and your opposition’s weaknesses and that got them all the way to the grand final.”

Player(s) to watch:

“I’m really keen to see how Lawson Creighton gets along. He’s in the Junior Wallabies squad at the moment and he’s a player that is improving out of sight. I’m really keen to see where he ends up, not just with us but also with his representative stuff as well.

“He’s an exceptional ball player. He can take the ball to the line, play late, really good kicking game and he just knows when and where to inject himself. At the moment we’ve got him playing fullback and we’ll have two ballplayers in the backline. That second ball playing role really suits him because he has a great passing and kicking game and he can pick and choose when he wants to run. He’s a really intelligent player.

“Angus Fowler did his ACL last year, but he played No.9 for us before that and I’m really excited to see him come back into the side and drive our forward pack around. He can dart from the base of the ruck and runs fantastic support lines, so it’ll be good to watch him.”

Hopes and expectations for the season:

“We don’t really talk about results too much. The big thing for us in regards to the Brothers culture is that we talk about trying to inspire the next generation of Brothers players. Our juniors and even members for that matter, we want them to be inspired by the way we play and hopefully as a consequence of that, we’ll win our fair share of games. Winning premierships isn’t why we play rugby, we’re more worried about how we play.

“We ask our playing group to come up with agreed behaviours and actions that lead to success. That comes from the players, not the coaches. It’s usually fairly simple stuff like communication, training commitments, behaviour on and off the field. We also want the players to think about why they do certain things in the game and that helps them make better decisions.

Who will Brothers play in the grand final this year? 

“The usual suspects I think. UQ, Jeeps. I think Souths might come through and perform a lot better than last year but I think like 2017 it’s going to be a really tight competition and anyone can beat anyone of the day,” the coach predicted.

“I think we’ll see another tight race to the finals. There were a fair few teams still in contention at the back end of the season and I think we’ll see that again this year.”