Fuiavailili's shoulders built for lifting Bears
THE under-18 finals series is wide open if you ask Redbank Plains coach Ty Guest.
And now his team has come through its fourth place play-off, beating Swifts 40-24 at the weekend, he is confident the Bears stand as much chance of winning it as anyone.
Leading the form team Redbank Plains is their just crowned under-18 player-of-the-year Tepatasi Fuiavailili.
"He's a very good kid," Guest said of his captain.
"If someone picks him up, he'll go a long way."
There seems little chance Fuiavailili won't get picked up.
Guest reckons he's 198cm and still growing and is still eligible for under-18s next year.
"I think last year was his first of football," the coach said.
"He's a nice quiet kid who'll do anything for the team and he loves the game."
It sounds like a coach's dream package so it is no wonder he captains the team.
"He leads from the front," Guest said.
"His defence is good for a tall guy.
"He's not afraid to have a go and he doesn't get flustered.
"A lot of players can get put off their game, not Tasi.
"When he gets angry, not lose his temper, he gets fired up and gets stronger.
"He keeps driving his legs.
"I think last year he was afraid to hurt people.
"I can tell him I want him to make one hit-up every six and he'll take two."
Despite his leadership attributes and other obvious assets, the coach is careful not to over-burden Fuiavailili with having to carry the team.
However, all of the team will have to take on added responsibility this weekend as they look to progress beyond the first week of finals.
"We're not playing to our full potential yet," Guest said.
"We're hoping it comes.
"We've had a terrible run with player numbers and injuries."
The Bears have lost centre Junior Muliaga for the rest of the season due to a shoulder injury.
It will make it harder for them to recapture the form that saw them dominating good teams mid-season.
But there were signs on Saturday that the Bears were returning to something close to their best form.
Redbank Plains 40 beat Swifts 24 in a play-off for fourth spot in the under-18s. They play Goodna in the elimination semi-final at the North Ipswich Reserve on Saturday. The match follows Goodna versus Lowood Tarampa in the Open Division One elimination semi-final. Goodna beat Brothers 28-16 in the fourth place play-off on Saturday to qualify.