‘Grand slam’, footy return gives Tigers plenty to celebrate
HAVING supported moves to revive Ipswich's senior and junior competitions this season, Norths have an added reason to enjoy the months ahead.
Apart from giving their best players some much needed footy, Norths Tigers are preparing for two memorable reunions in September.
One of the reunions scheduled for September 12 will celebrate the club's 1980 "grand slam'' achievement when Norths A-Grade, Reserve Grade, C-Grade, Under-18 and Under-16 teams all won grand finals.
In addition to that 40th anniversary, Norths will remember the club's A-Grade premiership victory in 1995.
Norths club president Jason Brennan said those milestone anniversaries would put the proverbial icing on a season that looked in doubt as recently as a few weeks ago.
But after initially respecting the decision to call off the 2020 season, Brennan said the Tigers quickly offered their support when the circumstances changed.
"Our junior and senior clubs at Norths have been positive from the start,'' Brennan said, in his third year as senior club president.
"We were okay as a senior club with the not progressing at the start because of all the tight regulations and the lack of crowds and stuff.
"But once that was all sort of lifted, then it became a no-brainer to keep playing footy . . . get back on the field.''
Norths will be joined in the revitalised RLI A-Grade competition by regular rivals Goodna and West End, along with Toowoomba Rugby League competition sides Valleys, Gatton and Souths.
Valleys have won the TRL grand final the past two seasons.
"It will pose a little bit of a different challenge for the players,'' Brennan said of the early August restart.
"You're not just playing the same old clubs, the same old players that everyone runs out each year.
"It's a little bit of a test to see where you stand against another competition.
"From what was going to just be possibly a makeshift season to get footy back on the field for nine or 10 weeks has probably turned into a pretty exciting contest now.
"To be able to test yourself. From the results early on, whether there's a large gap between the two comps or whether there are competitive with each other.''
As for his A-Grade senior side, Brennan was pleased to see Mick Newton continuing his coaching duties, backed by some dependable club old boys.
He was encouraged seeing up to 40 players training, including a number of Tigers colts.
They include developing Norths players of the future like Ipswich State High School Langer Cup co-captain Lachlan Williamson.
"We see it (the 2020 competition) as an opportunity, like we definitely have in the past, to rely on just Norths players,'' Brennan said.
"We've got enough players there to run with for the year and it's a good opportunity to get some of those younger guys some (A-Grade) experience.''
Club stalwarts like Jacob Stephan and Chris Scanlan are returning to assist the younger brigade.
Former A-Grade centre Tonga Mounga is also back at club Tuesday and Thursday night training having played in Norths' 2014/15 grand final side before retiring.
"We've got a pretty good mix of some experience there and a fair bit of youth coming through from what would have been 19s this year and 20s and 19s from the last couple of years,'' the club president said.
Norths are also preparing a strong contingent of junior Blue and Gold teams to support the 10-week season kicking off early next month.
"From what I can ascertain, they've pretty much got most of their players back bar maybe one or two in each age group,'' Brennan said.
"We're definitely fielding at least a side in every age group and in the younger age groups, multiple sides. The under-17s are still running with two full squads, which is good.
"It's been a really good response.''
Brennan said Norths planned to play their junior and senior home games at Cribb Park, including the big September 12 anniversary occasion.
"We're all set up and ready to go with that,'' he said, keen to see some footy going again.
"It's a relief that now we can actually move forward and get footy back on the field.''