Rangers have sights on success
IT will be a slightly different looking Ipswich Rangers team that takes the field to begin their Barber Cup title defence later this month.
Rangers have lost a number of their successful team last year, but have also gained some quality players.
Last year’s best and fairest, number eight Charlie Scott, has gone overseas, hooker Zan Bamford has moved to Emerald for work, flanker Mioaha Gregory is unable to commit due to work commitments, fullback Nick Horrigan has moved to Gladstone and winger Jim Dwyer is overseas.
However, they have recruited former Rangers old boy and Queensland sub-districts representative prop Dominic Chalk from Goodna.
Rangers had their first trial match last weekend against Toowoomba Rangers.
After matching their opponents in the first half, Ipswich coach Mike McLean made a host of changes and Toowoomba ran away with the match.
“We took a couple of squads up to have a look at the new blokes in some positions,” McLean said.
“They are pretty big losses for us in the forwards but I think we will be able to cover them.
“We’ve got a few young blokes coming out of seconds who will be good for us.”
They include back-rower Silas Cox, who will likely be joined by McLean’s son Alex, who moves from the second row. Giant forward Zane Puna is likely to get a shot in the first grade second row after impressing McLean with his physique and fitness.
“He’s put on 10kg in the gym I reckon,” the coach said.
“He must weigh 125kg and he’s fit. We’ll see how he goes but he looked pretty good against Toowoomba.”
The return of Chalk to his old club cannot be underestimated either, despite the veteran approaching 40.
“He’s trained the house down,” McLean said.
“He’s been great and is a fantastic footballer. Age is not too much of a concern.
“We have eight interchanges so we can rotate players, especially front rowers.”
The other player to impress McLean has been winger Miller Lemalu, who scored the match-winning try in last season’s grand final against Pine Rivers.
“He’s turned up to pre-season training for the first time in his life,” McLean said.
“He’s been really enthusiastic.”
McLean wasn’t going to jinx his team by declaring them certainties to defend their premiership, but he is confident nonetheless.
“We’ll be competitive,” he said. “We’ll be up there when the whips are cracking.
“We’ve got a bit more depth but have lost key players in Charlie Scott and Mioaha Gregory.”
Rangers play Springfield in a trial at Woodend on Friday night.