Brotherhood driving Bulldogs title quest
TRENT Manihera-Paul calls his West End Colts side a brotherhood and with good reason.
The Bulldogs five-eighth is a student and star player at Ipswich State High and he is not alone.
Go through the team list in today's grand final side against Norths and you will find either a current or former player from the powerhouse Ipswich school.
Manihera-Paul was a standout in the preliminary final win over Goodna.
After the game he explained what inspired him.
"I can't compare anything to the brotherhood we have here,” Manihera-Paul said.
"You look to the left and you look to the right and everyone is working hard for each other.
"There is nothing better.
"We play together at Ipswich High where our coaching staff bring us together and we are so fortunate that West End will have us here.”
Coach Jae Woodward said Manihera-Paul was a stellar performer.
"He is just a competitor who does all the little things right,” Woodward said.
"Trent eats the right meals.
"He doesn't drink soft drink.
"He makes sure he is rested before games, and he makes sure all the other boys are doing the right things and know what their job is.
"Trent has got one goal in life and that is to play NRL football.
"He is not just doing it half-heartedly. He is 100 per cent committed and I have not seen a 17-year-old be as committed as he is to reach his dream.”
Manihera-Paul may only be 17 but he doesn't mind barking instructions at his older teammates.
"He has definitely got some chat,” Woodward grinned.
"Sometimes it is really good, sometimes not so good. Sometimes he just likes the sound of his own voice but 90 per cent of the time it is constructive.
"I give him a bit more of a free rein than (Ipswich High coach) Lee Addison does. I am not as structured as Lee.
"But hopefully Trent can keep working hard at it and keep progressing through.”
There are some real giants in the West End side. Prop Samuela Vaeagi is one of them and he has plenty of strings to his bow.
Sometimes the big unit goes into a ball playing role and showcases his considerable passing skills.
"That is definitely planned,” Woodward said. "We have got some moves at training that he definitely likes to try where he thinks he is a five-eighth.
"Every time I have got an injured half he says 'Jae, I am right to go' but I need him in the middle.
"He has got great footwork too. I say to him 'I don't want you dancing all the time before the line and you don't have to punch it into the line all the time'.
"If I don't know what he is doing then hopefully the defence doesn't.
"I let them play very much what is in front of them. If they see something is on they are not going to get in trouble for having a go, if they give me a good enough excuse.”
The grand final is a big moment for the club.
"We are in a rebuilding phase and we need to be bringing these players through,” Woodward said.
"Hopefully the majority of them will hang around, the ones who don't move on to the Jets or bigger and better things and we can build an A Grade side around them.”
The club has been boosted by the return of Lisite Hafoka from New Zealand.
Hafoka's father died the day before the preliminary final and the West End Old Boys paid for his flight back so he could line up today with his teammates by his side.
The Bulldogs have some brilliant attacking weapons out wide with fullback Tyrell Woodley and centre Luke Geary excitement machines.