Hospital Cup: Jeeps double down on fitness and skills to topple Souths

By TOM PRIMMER

GPS v Souths | Yoku Road | 3:05pm

GPS boast some incredible talent across the field in 2021, making the trip to Yoku Raod all the more difficult for the Magpies this weekend.

AJ Alatimu, Teti Tela and Chris Kurindrani make up an incredibly imposing midfield for the Gallopers, with Josh Collins adding pace and x-factor out wide.

After an injury hampered 2020, standout flanker Matt Gicquel is back with a clean bill of health, with premiership winning captain Michael Richards packing down alongside him in the backrow.

Veteran Fred Burke will celebrate his 100th Premier Grade cap in the front row, a well-deserved achievement for a stalwart of Queensland Premier Rugby.

New head coach Shane Arnold is excited for the season to begin.

“Our focus has been on increased fitness and skills,” Arnold said of his side’s pre-season.

“Souths will bring ball carriers in the mid field and a strong set piece. They will be well prepared and know their game.

“It’s very exciting. I spent a lot of time at GPS as kid with Elia Tuqiri (GPS assistant coach) watching our fathers play so great to be back as coaches.”

The young Magpies learnt plenty of lessons last season, and will be out to bring them to the fore this season.

A full pre-season at the Rebels has Theo Fourie primed for a strong season at hooker, while the Farrell brothers, Jack and Sean, will also be in for big campaigns after returning from Super Rugby setups.

The experience of captain Luke Samoa will be key at fullback, as will young halves combination Jakob Morrison and Harry Leerentveld.

Destructive outside-centre Elijah Kefu has returned to the club, adding some punch to the Souths’ midfield.

“Our focus for this season is making better decisions,” head coach Todd Dammers said.

“At stages (last season) we played great footy, but played with a cavalier attitude. We need to make better decisions across the board, while maintaining that confidence … it’s balancing act we want to get right.”

“From our side I just think our game controllers will be critical. Jakob Morrison, Harry Leerentveld and Luke Samoa have done a good job all preseason, we would expect that to continue.

“GPS are well coached, with good players and from reports they are hungry to do well. It will be a big first up challenge, we can’t wait.”