Developing team spirit paying off at Goodna
NEW Zealand-born Samoan Junior Mananu is coaching the only Goodna team in Saturday's junior grand finals.
However, he's hoping the young men can capitalise on their successful season to bolster the club in future years.
Having been a former A Grade frontrower still playing in Second Division, Mananu is pleased how the team has responded in this season's Rugby League Ipswich under 15 competition.
"We've had a tremendous year,'' he said of the side that finished third heading into the final series.
"They had potential. They just didn't have the direction,'' he said.
"We've been able to get the bond together and had to strip it all back and teach them the basics.
"And that's all we've done really.''
That approach worked with Goodna beating Springfield Black 30-20 in last weekend's preliminary final. The Eagles overcame Brothers Blue 42-26 a week earlier in the elimination playoff.
He rated the win over Springfield the most satisfying, showing the benefits of solid teamwork when it mattered the most.
"A lot of people didn't think they'd get this far,'' he said, pleased to prove some doubters wrong.
Preparing for Saturday's 11.50am grand final against Norths Blue, the Eagles coach said the under 15 competition had also been a tough division this season.
"It's been really physical for 15s,'' he said.
Mananu started coaching four years ago after joining the club in 1996.
"It's just giving back to the game and to Goodna,'' he said.
"Where they all get from there is totally up to them.''
But he hoped the family values instilled in the players would hold them in good stead for the future.
"Now you can't separate them,'' he said. "It's just gone from having their own little group to now - on and off the field - they just have each other's back.''
Goodna's captain has been frontrower Ovard Tuileisu.
Mananu appreciates the role of assistant coach Dion Rakatairi.
"He's been an exceptional help,'' the head coach said.
"He's really got a good thing going and hopefully we keep going in the future.''
The Anthony Bauer-coached Norths Blue side advanced directly to the grand final by beating Springfield Black 40-22 in the major semi-final.
Norths Blue were minor premiers.