QLD Premier Rugby: Brothers prepare for life without Aussie U20s stars
Top of the table Brothers will play their first match of 2019 without their young brigade of stars, who have joined the Australian U20s program ahead of the World Cup in June.
The Brethren have been the big improvers to date, but lose backrowers Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson and outside back Byron Ralston until later this year.
“We’ve known all year that we were going to lose those guys to the 20s and we’ve planned for it. Fortunately, we’re confident that we’ve got the playing depth throughout the grades and plenty of consistency in our program so that whoever gets an opportunity will be up to speed,” Brothers Director of Rugby Ryan Schutz said.
While Schutz said his 20s players had been outstanding in Brothers’ opening four wins, their departure creates opportunities for other players in the top grade.
“Noah Nielsen and Henry Fitzgerald will come into the backrow. They’ve both come through our colts and grades program and have experience in Premier Grade.
“Bradford Kapa also comes into the pack and he’s another that has proven himself over the last two seasons.
“We’ll also have another young up and coming winger Tristan Stanghon come into the team. He has come through the junior representative pathways and the Reds Academy, which is great to see.”
Brothers are undefeated after the opening month of play and take on a Sunnybank outfit on Saturday who will be without another Aussie 20s star, Issac Lucas.
Despite the strong start to the year, Schultz said the side won’t be resting on their laurels.
“We want to keep improving our game. It’s great to have some momentum behind us but the only way to continue that is to stay consistent with our standards and keep preparing well each week.”
Elsewhere, UQ will look to bounce back from their big loss to Wests in round four when they travel to play Norths.
Last year’s grand finalists leaked 10 tries in round four in an uncharacteristic performance, but assistant coach Elton Berrange said the group has bounced back quickly.
“Wests played well. They made over 200 tackles which speaks volumes about their desire on the day. We played particularly poorly and conceded some soft tries after some bad decisions & poor efforts.”
“To the boys credit, they’ve acknowledged their performances & taken responsibility for them.”
Unsurprisingly, Berrange said defence has been the focus over the past two weeks.
“The players have stood up and really ripped into each other. The intensity at training has gone up a notch and I’m looking forward to seeing them take that into Saturday’s game.”