See how Brothers are boosting their club culture
BROTHERS Ipswich have reunited two familiar faces to guide the A-Grade team for the 2017 Ipswich Rugby League season.
Experienced pair Pat O'Doherty and Gary Perrett have returned to the coaching roles they last held in 2002.
Having a combination of fire and ice coaching styles, they agreed the club faced a tough challenge to back up from the previous season's efforts.
Claiming three premierships on grand final day, Brothers boast plenty of talent across all four grades.
"When you get four sides into a final, it's hard to back up,'' O'Doherty said.
"We've always had great numbers in the pre-sesaon and the main thing is we want them interested in coming to training.
"As you saw this year, there were times where we led nearly every game and then fell away in certain parts of the game. That comes down to not being fit and not concentrating on the game that's in front of you.''
With a host of silverware from the 2016 season, assistant coach Perrett said to win an A-Grade premiership required a strong bond across all grades from players in the blue and white jersey.
"We need to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves for a start, and then we want to get them bigger and fitter than they were last year,'' Perrett said.
"We want to have a whole club culture, not that they weren't last year, but we want to have a whole club focus rather than A-Grade focus.
"We want that across all the grades.''
A new coaching team for the Brothers men's and women's senior teams is in place with Shaun O'Loan (Reserve Grade), Dave Mills (U19), Darryll Squires (U19 strength and conditioning/assistant), Bec Jones (co-coach women's) and Natalie Dwyer (co-coach women's) appointed.
After Brothers were grand finalists for the past three years only to fall to Norths twice and Goodna last year, Perrett said the pair were aware of the high expectations placed on them by the Brothers faithful. However, he's undaunted by the task ahead.
"That's always the expectation now here at the club,'' he said.
"We're aiming at the semis and then on to the grand final and I think that's just expected when you come down here.
"Our idea to try and gel some of the older blokes in with some of these newer blokes who are coming through from the 17, 18, 19s and hopefully slot them in with some of the older heads in A Grade.
"We've got a good team of people who are going to condition those guys too. Shaun O'Loan has the Reserve grade and he'll be a good sounding board for us with players coming in and out of Reserve and first grade.''
A tough as nails forward in his playing days, O'Doherty agreed with his coaching partner. He wants a no-nonsense approach from the players.
"We are not going to take any backward steps,'' he said. "We are going to be fit and strong. That's the way I used to play and that's the way we expect these boys to do it.
"There's only one way to go and that's forward.
"There's always pieces and there's always steps but you have a good bunch of boys like these here at Brothers who want to learn and are willing to learn.''
The A-Grade coaches are keen to involve the whole Brothers coaching staff in their plans for 2016.
"It's a big family club,'' O'Doherty said.
"We want to take a step back and give the other coaches a bit of control for some of the skills and drills as well so that we can walk around and maybe pull out some of the young boys and take them aside to show them what we want them to improve on.
"It's about individual training as well, not just as a squad.''
While the new season is still a few months away, pre-season training has already begun for the senior players.