2019 QLD Premier Rugby Season Review: UQ
By Finn Morton; Photo – Brendan Hertel/QRU Media Unit
The University of Queensland looked destined for an early end to their season, sitting seventh two months out from finals. But a late fightback from the Students saw them qualify for finals.
The Students showed their class against Easts in the minor semi-final, and upset defending-champions Jeeps to set up a grand final matchup with minor premiers Brothers.
Playing in their fourth final in four years, the Red Heavies won their 9th match out of 10 to cap off a great 2019 campaign with some silverware.
UQ are already preparing to successfully go back-to-back in 2020, a rare feat in QLD Premier Grade rugby. This is according to UQ coach Mick Heenan.
Overview with Mick Heenan:
“We exposed a number of players to Premier Grade footy; very few players at our club could say they deserved an opportunity but didn’t get one,” said Heenan.
“I was really impressed with the way the players stuck at the task when results weren’t going our way.
“We had a number of players unavailable through the early part of the season and we were struggling for depth.
“[It would be] Hard to beat the grand final win [for a season highlight] but there were also a number of close wins when we were struggling into contention. That showed a lot of character and it was exciting to be part of.
“The main one [lesson learnt] is to keep focused on improving your performance and not to get too distracted by results. The results will generally come if you get the first part right. We cut it fine this year though!”
Which non contracted player deserves to play at a higher level?
“At Uni we relied heavily on Sam Wallis and Pat Morrey this season. I’d love to see those guys get a professional opportunity.
“Sam and Pat, they’ve dominated at Premier Grade level. They’ve gone well at NRC level and they’ve got games which are probably suited to the next level.
“With SJ Tamala, he’s only just started playing prop and he’s still finding his feet. If he keeps improving at the rate that he’s been improving then he’s destined for professional opportunities.”
What needs to happen between now and round one next year?
“We need to work hard, stay humble and keep looking for ways to improve.
“A bunch of guys will have a good break, we’ll probably start training for the non-NRC guys in December. It’s just a matter of keeping our heads down and working hard.
“Obviously we’ve got the Australian Club Championship on the 21st of March in Sydney against Sydney Uni.”
Bold prediction for 2020:
“History suggests it is difficult to go back to back, but like everyone else we will be doing our best to win it.”