Panel to help Eagles soar
ANY young Aussie rules footballer coming through the ranks in Ipswich next year won't have to look far for inspiration or advice.
After an inaugural season littered with poor performances and injury, Ipswich Eagles coach Dave Hume has put together the most experienced coaching panel in club history for the Eagles' 2012 season.
Hume will again take the reins of the senior side with last season's senior captain Chris "Fatty" Devlin stepping up as Reserves coach.
Club stalwarts Clint "Aussie" Bateman and Kym "Kimbo" Mansell will also guide the Eagles' first stand-alone under-18 side in a number of years.
The duo coached the Ipswich Cats under-16 side in 2011 and will carry many of those players with them to Eagles ranks next year.
"It is absolutely fantastic for the club to have these two club stalwarts involved," Hume said.
"Kym's played over 200 games and Aussie over 150.
"They're unsung heroes around this club and they put their heart and soul into the 16s last year.
"They've come a long way with those kids and showed fantastic improvement as tyear progressed.
"They've engendered a good spirit amongst the group so we are trying to take that through the club."
The re-introduction of the under-18 side is an important step in keeping talented juniors involved in the sport.
In previous years, 15-16 year-old players graduating for the Ipswich Cats junior club had no option but to play in Brisbane or change codes, seriously limiting the senior club's numbers. Hume said Cats juniors would now have a "pathway to senior football".
"The footy program has been really disjointed here in Ipswich," he said. "Hopefully it (under-18s) will lead to us working more closely with the Cats.
"We're trying to bring everyone together and get some continuity between the clubs."
Hume said that without a presence in the under-18 competition last year, he wasn't expecting too much from the young group.
"We don't expect them to be world beaters next year," he said.
"For us (Eagles) to be sustainable, we actually need the 18s to be a breeding ground for our own kids."
Keeping last year's captain at the club following his injury was another key to Hume's plans.
Devlin suffered a serious knee injury in his 150th club game late last season and will miss the entire 2012 season following a full knee-reconstruction.
Hume said the trio added nearly 600 games of senior experience to the coaching team, a real coup for the club.
"Instead of disappearing into the background and mulling over his footy, he (Devlin) has put his hand up to coach the reserves," Hume said of his inspirational captain.
"It's fantastic, I'm really proud of his application to the club."
After lowly finishes in both grades last season, Hume said a finals appearance would be the measure of success next year.
Eagles' pre-season training will begin on November 14 at Limestone Park.