Ipswich High’s professionalism shines through disruption
HIGHLY organised Ipswich State High School head coach Josh Bretherton concedes preparing for this year's elite Langer Cup competition has provided additional challenges.
"I'd rate it disrupted,'' he said when asked about his open team's lead-up to the prestigious school competition kicking off this month.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions in recent months, Bretherton said it was hard to know exactly where his team was at, compared to last year.
"The training and the way they've prepared themselves is excellent but it is a very different preparation,'' he said looking ahead to Ipswich State High's first clash against Palm Beach Currumbin on July 29.
"There was a lot of time off where people were sitting at home.
"There was modified training. We weren't allowed contact and all those sorts of things for a long time.
"We like to do a lot of contact in our training. We believe in all that . . . trying to prevent injuries and stuff like that . . . for the overall benefit of less injuries mid-season by having the body physically prepared.
"So it was quite a different prep for us.''
However, fresh from his team's latest training session at Brassall, Bretherton remains professional and focused on what he and his support staff do best.
That is providing the quality training environment the students need to become better footballers and people.
Retaining their powerful motto "We Are Ipswich'', this year's leading Langer Cup side is determined to build on finishing runner-ups last season.
Bretherton is ever upbeat despite the COVID disruptions, which also denied some of his players Jets Mal Meninga competition, rep footy and valuable club games in recent weeks.
The head coach's focus has remained firmly on delivering four field 70 minute sessions and two gym workouts a week, plus additional video reviews and planning tactics for the next match.
One of those sessions is at a slower pace where players get to work on their own core skills, positional specific techniques and passing.
It's a successful formula that lifted Ipswich State High to a new level last year following valuable lessons in their earlier Langer Cup campaigns.
Bretherton is pleased to have six of last year's powerhouse squad back to anchor this year's effort.
They are co-captains Lachlan Williamson (halfback) and fullback Deijion Leugaimafa, along with hooker/lock Riley Morris, props Ilai Tuia and Shane Tolova'A, and secondrower Waylon Fiaii.
"To have those six back, it's really good to have them play at that level,'' Bretherton said.
"The other thing that's really exciting is our Reserve Grade team won it last year and played a really good season so of course a huge number of them are coming up.''
The format for this year's Reserve Grade competition is to be decided, dependant on COVID restrictions.
"We're expecting to have some big wins,'' Bretherton said.
After their opening away game, Ipswich State High has a scheduled August 5 encounter with either St Mary's or Coombabah before an August 12 showdown with Keebra Park.
That game is at the North Ipswich Reserve.
Ipswich State High's second home clash before the semi-finals is against Wavell on August 26.
Ipswich State High also have an August 19 away game against Marsden.
All Langer Cup games will be livestreamed on News Corp websites, including the Queensland Times digital site, up to and including finals.
After all the weeks of restricted activity, Bretherton said his squad's intensity had picked up since some extra work over the recent holidays.
He said the commitment of his seven support staff was crucial in looking after 300 league students aged 12 to 18 in the academy.
"It's a big program and everyone has their age groups,'' the physical education teacher and rugby league head coach said.
"We very much have that mindset we all do it as a group.
"We're all doing our best here to get the best for these boys. To make sure when they leave here, they are the best footballers, they are the best students, they're ready to take a job and move into work.''
He said the class room teachers who coach add a set of valuable skills in their roles, from videoing to data collection and preparing gym programs.
"I can't speak highly enough of the guys that work with me there. They are awesome,'' Bretherton said.
"They put in tons of hours, late nights editing video and early mornings and gym sessions every week . . . and they do it because they want the group to be successful.
"It's a culture of trying to do the best we can and for the school. That's what it's all about.''