Sport

Success breeds hard life for Ipswich rugby league juniors

EAGER: Ipswich under-18 and under-16 rugby league representative hopefuls put in the hard yards.
EAGER: Ipswich under-18 and under-16 rugby league representative hopefuls put in the hard yards. Sarah Harvey

SOMETIMES the better you do, the harder you make things for yourself.

So the Ipswich under-16 and under-18 rugby league teams have discovered.

In the three seasons of the Mal Meninga (under-18) and Cyril Connell (under-16) Cup competitions, Ipswich has made steady gains.

But the success of last year's 18s, who narrowly missed the finals of the state-wide competition, have resulted in a player drain.

Fortunately, the strength of Ipswich junior league is such that those in charge are confident the improvement can continue in 2013.

"Both squads are training well," Ipswich coaching co-ordinator Paul Lowe said.

"We're really happy with their progress from the testing day (last November) to now."

The two squads have trial matches scheduled on February 9 and 16.

While the under-16 squad has plenty of familiar faces, the under-18s have a new look.

From the under-16s, Carter Auld, A.J. Elder and Rickey Leota are back again to provide their experience.

The 18s, however, have been a victim of their own success, with a number of their still eligible stars from last year snapped up by National Rugby League clubs.

The likes of Matthew Fairhurst, Rory Humphreys, Lachlan Roe, Joe Ofahengaue, Max Fesolai, Ellery Tusa and Tevita Folau are one step closer to the big time after playing Mal Meninga Cup last season.

Not that Lowe is complaining. It is proof Ipswich is doing things right.

"It's a real positive of the system," he said.

As such there has been no major change to the Ipswich approach.

"We've got a good group of 17-year-olds this year and they're preparing really well," Lowe said.

"We always review little things and have changed a few minor things. We're happy with our skill development but have stepped it up again with the physical development.

"We've got high expectations on performance (this season).

"Bearing in mind other teams get quite a bit of NYC (National Youth Cup) left overs back into the squad. With Ipswich's Broncos agreement, we will see more of that in future but for this year I don't think much changes."

Ipswich Coaches

Cyril Connell Cup: Jai Woodward, Kerry Theuerkauf, Todd Riggs.

Mal Meninga Cup: Mick Newton, Val Brown, Aaron Bennett.

Topics:  cyril connell cup, ipswich junior rugby league, mal meninga cup, paul lowe



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