KEEPING ACTIVE: Easts and Ipswich men’s coach Darren Manson runs the ball during last year’s Reserve grade grand final against Hancocks.
KEEPING ACTIVE: Easts and Ipswich men’s coach Darren Manson runs the ball during last year’s Reserve grade grand final against Hancocks. David Nielsen

Busy few months will see Manson concentrate on coaching

EASTS coach Darren Manson is in for a busy few months with the A-grade premiers and as Ipswich open men's mentor.

However, the experienced hockey representative thrives on working with quality players.

He's delighted all but goalkeeper Andy Woodford are back from last year's successful Tigers side which beat Norths 5-4 in the grand final.

Woodford has moved to Melbourne for work.

His deputy Patrick Collingwood will be given a major top grade opportunity this season after impressing in last year's A-grade and Reserve grade grand finals.

Easts have also picked up state under-15 player Caleb McCoombes, from Hancocks, and have the skilful Lachlan Brown back after an overseas trip.

"It was a great year (2013) - minor premiers, we drew the mid-season and won the grand final,'' Manson said.

"You really can't ask for too much better than that.

"This year, we've got a really strong squad. I'm expecting good things again.''

Manson is planning to concentrate on coaching, having a run in Reserve grade.

The Tigers have their first major pre-season hit-out in the annual TigerTurf Cup men's competition starting at Carina tomorrow night.

The nine-a-side matches with modified rules are at the Clem Jones Sports Centre.

Easts are in Pool A with their Brisbane counterparts (last year's Brisbane Hockey League champions), Burleigh (Gold Coast) and Norths sides from Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Ipswich club side Wests are in Pool B with Ryde Hunters Hill (Sydney), Pine Rivers St Andrews (Brisbane), Labrador (Gold Coast) and Queensland Academy of Sport.

Manson said about eight or nine Easts A-graders were expected to play in the tournament, which focuses on attacking hockey.

"It's very fast so it's a good chance to give everybody a good run,'' Manson said.

"It's really just to let the guys have a bit of a run, to play with each other again and start to get a little big game fit.''

Wests player/coach Todd Watson is looking to the TigerTurf Cup to develop players.

"It's more a hit-out for the young guys,'' Watson said.

In his second season as player/coach for the Magpies, Watson is looking to build on what was achieved last season.

He's welcomed fine clubman Michael Wiseman back (from an overseas stint) and some new players including RAAF and Australian Country player Warwick Smith.

"We've got probably four out and we've probably gained a couple of young fellas,'' Watson said.

Accomplished player and coach Damien Goodwin will assist Watson this season.

Wests players have been running for a month as they prepare for game time in the TigerTurf Cup.

The Ipswich A-grade competition starts on March 15 at the Raceview hockey grounds.

Meanwhile, Manson is also overseeing the Ipswich number one squad preparing for the state open titles in Brisbane from April 26-28.

He has more than 35 players training, with the number one side being named after the first round.



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