Swifts look outside IRL to lift hopes
by Lee Gaskin
AFTER a year they would rather forget, Swifts have cast the recruitment net far and wide in an effort to re-establish themselves as a force in the Ipswich Rugby League (IRL) competition.
Rather than poach players from IRL rivals, the once-mighty club has expanded its search to around south-east Queensland.
While boasting a batch of impressive under 18s, president Jamie McQueen said the club felt it was necessary to add several experienced campaigners to assist the development of those youngsters.
"We're looking in bringing a few blokes out from Brisbane, because it's hard to find many good players out here in Ipswich who aren't already with a club," McQueen said.
"We've got some great under 18s, but that was basically an under-17s side. It's good to get some new guys in while the young kids develop."
The club's biggest signing is undoubtedly that of footballing journeyman Julian O'Neill.
The QT understands Swifts are also close to securing fellow Queensland Origin representative Wayne Bartrim.
Swifts have agreed to terms with several players who have impressive resumes, including half-back John Nash, lock Ricky Taylor and centre Peter Johns.
While there is plenty of movement in the playing ranks, the same cannot be said for the off-field staff, with Pat O'Doherty (A grade), Steve O'Connell (Reserves) and Damian O'Donaghue (under 18s) retaining their positions.
However, an important addition is that of Greg Gadsby as the club's trainer, with McQueen confident the club will benefit from Gadsby's vast experience.
"Getting Greg on board is a big bonus. We certainly lacked in the fitness stakes (this year)," McQueen said.
There is still uncertainty as to the format of next year's competition, with delegates from all clubs, along with the IRL executive, set to meet on December 7.
"I think as long as you can field three sides (A grade, Reserves and under 18s), along with paying affiliation fees, registration and signing sponsors, then you deserve a spot in the competition," McQueen said.
"It's all good for a few of these clubs to put their hand up and say we should go to eight teams, but if their team is facing the chop then I don't think they'd be supporting it."
The club trains on Tuesday nights at Chandler Oval, Purga. Inquiries with McQueen on 0409 875980.