Eagles begin long rebuilding phase
FROM powerhouse to temporarily homeless, the expectations for the Goodna Eagles in this season’s Ipswich Rugby League have altered dramatically from recent years.
New coach Chris Fullarton already looked to have a tough task on his hands for the 2011 season after losing the likes of captain Craig Wehrman (retired), former international Andrew Walker (joined Fassifern) and quality players Andy and Sione Piutau, Ben Seve and Ezra Lemafa (joined Brothers).
Then came the floods and what had seemed like a crisis was put into perspective.
Now, as the club tries to rebuild its home ground and facilities, Fullarton is left with the task of trying to rebuild a proud football team.
“We were a bit late getting back after Christmas,” Fullarton said dead-pan of his team’s return to the training paddock post-floods.
Not surprisingly the club is a fair way behind where it normally would in its preparation for the 2011 season.
Training at the Redbank Plains Recreational Reserve while Richardson Park is out of bounds has not helped either.
“With the move up there and starting back late we’re not looking as good as we would have liked,” Fullarton said. “Some of the boys have been there the whole time. You always get late comers and that means going back over things.”
All up there have been about 40 different faces at training, just not at the same time, though it is the under-20s who are struggling most for players.
The flood has also taken a huge financial toll on the club.
“We want to honour all contracts but the club hasn’t got any income,” Fullarton said.
“We have lost quite a few players who have been offered a lot more money to play elsewhere.”
Subsequently it is only those playing for love or opportunities that remain.
“We’re relying on Goodna players who have pride in playing for Goodna,” Fullarton said.
“It makes it interesting.”
Making it more interesting is a number of those who would be the basis of an A-grade team, such as Alistair Tauaa, Max Seumanutafa and Elijah Umu, are trying their hands with the Ipswich Jets.
It leaves the likes of new captain Fa Tauaa and second-rower Frank Matiu for Fullarton to build a team around.
Rather than running from adversity however, the former Junior Kangaroos and Brothers IRL premiership winning coach has embraced the challenge.
But don’t expect to hear anyone talking about the prospects of winning a premiership this season.
“It is a passionate club,” Fullarton said.
“There is enough to build a good solid team there.
“I’m happy to be there at this time and help rebuild the club.
“It is a long season.
“Hopefully we will be hitting our straps near the end of it.
“Goodna traditionally starts the season strongly before fading.
“We might be able to turn that around this time.”
The Eagles have had one trial, against the Gold Coast Titans under 20s but have had to cancel planned games against Burleigh due to lack of numbers.
However, the team returns to Richardson Park for a trial against Gold Coast club Hinterland Storm on March 19.
Reserve grade kicks off at 2.30pm and A-grade at 4pm.
With no power or hot water club president Gary Parker warns it is “grassroots” rugby league, though cold drinks and a barbecue will be available.