2023 GPS Season Preview: Joeys

Joeys were the only undefeated side in 2022 and claimed the outright first XV premiership however coach Greg Thompson said he thought the season was a lot tighter than the final competition ladder suggested.

A year on, just four players return from last year’s premiership side and Thompson is predicting an even tighter competition in 2023.

Overview with Greg Thompson: 

“Things are coming along nicely. It’s obviously earlier in the year compared to what we’ve been used to and we’re probably not completely settled on our best side just yet, but I think we got enough out of the trials to be competitive in the early rounds,” first XV coach Greg Thompson told Rugby News. 

“We had our camp up in Tamworth and that was really good again. We don’t have a huge number of players back from last year and we had a good No.8 who just got injured unfortunately and will be out for a while. 

“So we’re starting again a little bit with our structures and our plays but it’s coming along nicely and the boys are keen and ready to get into round one. We’re probably not as well prepared as we’d like to be, but I don’t think anyone will be. 

“I’ve coached two round competitions before and they are relatively long seasons compared to playing just five games. In the shorter season, everything counts in every game whereas this year, you can probably afford to drop a game or two and still win the competition. 

“The good teams are the ones that find ways to keep winning, particularly in tight games. 

“I think our depth will help us later in the season. We’re lucky to have lots of open teams and we’re going to need to call upon that depth because there will likely be injuries throughout the longer season.”

2023 Squad: 

“Our 15A’s were really strong last year and there are two boys from that side who will play up in opens,” Thompson told Rugby News. 

“We’ve also got four quality players back from last year who will provide good experience.

“Then we’ve got players from seconds and thirds and a few from last year’s 16A’s filling the remainder of the positions.”

What style of rugby will we see from Joeys this year? 

“We always try to play running rugby because we’re traditionally smaller than some of the other sides. 

“We like to try to run teams around and then rely on our fitness to keep us in the contest and then help us outscore teams in the later stages of the match. 

“In saying that, we can talk about running rugby all we like, but if you don’t have the ball because you are giving away penalties or losing the ball at the breakdown, then you can’t score points. 

“We’ll focus on the key fundamentals around our defensive systems, then make sure we make our tackles. 

“Holding the ball is going to be the main focus for us so that we don’t give the opposition too many opportunities to put points on us.”

Which teams pose the biggest threats this season? 

“Last year was a very, very close competition and we were lucky to scrape through and win five games. The other schools then beat one another and that helped us to win the competition. 

“The competition was probably closer than the ladder suggested last year and I think it’ll be similar again in 2023. 

“Given the 10 rounds, teams are going to beat one another and I think every team will have the ability to win on their given day. It’ll make for an exciting season, that’s for sure.”

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