2018 QLD Premier Rugby Season Preview: Norths
Norths took a step in the right direction in 2017 but can blame a slow start to the season for their eighth placed finish last season.
After finishing the season with plenty of momentum, Norths coach Nick Fogarty has been thrilled with his side’s preseason and is hoping a few big recruits can help turn the club’s fortunes in 2018.
Overview with Nick Fogarty:
“It’s been the best preseason that I’ve been involved in during my time at Norths, which started back in 2015. The squad has been working really hard since October last year and we’ve had really good numbers, we’ve got through a stack of work and I’m really happy with the general attitude and culture that we’re building around the club,” Fogarty said.
“I was pretty happy with how we finished the season but we didn’t have a great start to the year. It probably took us about three or four games to click and by that time we were a little bit behind the eight ball in comparison to those top sides. We had a really good run towards the end of the season, had six wins and were really competitive in the games that we did lose.
“We’ve worked really hard on our catch and pass, so that when opportunities to present themselves, we’re able to capitalise.
“We’ve also worked hard on our set piece and worked really hard on our scrummaging. So far in our first few trials we’ve been able to lay a pretty decent platform off the back of that. We also want to try and minimise the amount of mistakes we make so we’ve invested a fair bit of time in our defensive work. We’ve worked hard on our communication and we want everyone to know their roles and responsibilities.
“I’ve been happy with our trial form so far. We played pretty well against Easts considering it was our first game. We just fell away a little bit towards the end but I was genuinely pretty happy with a few individual performances and with how we went as a team. We had a few areas that we wanted to work on for the Wests game but the conditions made that difficult. Wests handled those wet conditions better than we did but in say that, there were still some noticeable improvements in key areas.
“We’ve picked up Nick Jooste who has joined the Reds from the Brumbies. He’s played the last two trials for us and he’s been going great. He’s a big lad, defensively he’s got a great presence, he’s got a great running and kicking game and I think the more opportunity he gets to train and play with us, the better he will get.
“We’re really happy with our numbers. We had a premier grade squad of about 40 and we were constantly getting 30 plus players turning up every Tuesday and Thursday. We’ve also got plenty of numbers in our lower grades and the coaches in those grades have been doing a great job there.”
2017 result: 8th (6 wins, 10 losses)
Ins: Jordan Taupou (West Harbour), Tony Hunt (Reds), Nick Jooste (Brumbies).
Outs: Tim Cree (injured), Siupeli Vaipulu (rugby league), Tonga Ma’afu (injured).
2018 Captain: Jordan Taupou
Key areas of improvement:
“Obviously winning more games, that’s the big one. We had no problem with our attack last year, we were in the top couple of sides as far as tries scored but we let ourselves down with some defensive lapses,” the coach said.
“Defence is a big area that we’ve focussed on because we know we have lots of points in us, we just need to shut sides out.
“Continuity is also important. We’ve got a few new guys down at the club so we want to build that rapport and relationships so that they don’t have to be second guessing things once the season start.”
Player(s) to watch:
“I think Nick Chapman and Conor Chittenden are probably two. They’ve been at the club for a few years now and they were both outstanding for us last year. I think Reece Hewat will also be really good for us when we see him.
“Then we’ve got a few club stalwarts, guys like Zac Bowman who has had a massive off season and trained the house down. He’ll play hooker for us this year and I’m really looking forward to watching him go around.”
Hopes and expectations for the season:
“We want to improve on last year. We won six games last year, the previous year we won five and the year before that we only won one, so we’ve had steady improvements over that three year period and we were really competitive towards the end of last year,” Fogarty said.
“We’re really focussed on having a winning season, so we want to win eight or nine games and if we can do that, that should put us in the mix to play finals.
“I think this year will be super tight. Every side looks really stacked with quality players from 1-15 and a number of reserves are probably Premier quality as well, so I don’t think there will be any real easy games. It will probably be the side that turns up on the day that ends up winning most weeks.
“We just want to make sure we keep improving and continue to work on the things that we did well last year.”
Who will Norths play in the grand final this year?
“If Quade Cooper plays, I think there is a good chance we’ll play Souths.
“I think GPS will be really strong again, by the sounds of it they’ve recruited really well again this year and they’ve got a good core group of players that have played together for a long period of time.
“Overall, it’s going to be tight. Even when you look at the results from the trials that have been played so far, they have all been really close. I think the quality of the competition is as good as its been in a number of years which is great for the game in Queensland.”
Photo Credit: QRU Media – Brendan Hertel