Skipper back for state title bid
THE Ipswich under-18 boys hockey side received the perfect boost for this weekend's state titles in Townsville.
Captain Jarrod Brown was given the all-clear to play after suffering a nasty mouth injury last month.
Relieved coach Mark Sharrad said Brown's return to training this week gave the team a timely lift preparing to head north for the three-day championships.
"He trained for the first time since the incident," Sharrad said.
"We have got one of our senior players back and the boys seem to respond to it quite well. It was a good intense training session."
Classy defender Brown lined up for Brisbane Easts last weekend before rejoining his Ipswich under-18 teammates.
"It was good to know that he was playing the final down in Brisbane on Saturday, which means having one game under his belt, he's got his confidence back," Sharrad said.
"He pulled through it quite well. He enjoyed it."
With Brown back leading the side, experienced Wests A-grade goalkeeper Sharrad was excited about his side's prospects.
"Everyone is injury-free," he said. "We got up there with fresh legs.
"I reckon it's the best side Ipswich has put forward in a number of years."
Ipswich opens its Division 1 campaign tomorrow morning against expected competition heavyweights Brisbane 1.
"Hopefully we can get them early and get that game out of the way," the coach said.
"If we finish one or two in the pool, that gives us a chance in the finals."
Other opponents in Ipswich's pool are Rockhampton, Cairns and Toowoomba.
The Ipswich side features players involved in last weekend's A-grade and Reserve grade grand finals. They include Ipswich's most exciting goalkeeping prospect Kyah Andrew-Sharrad, Nathan Smith and Luke Haley.
Norths A-grade coach and former premiership-winning player Jamie Burns adds vital perspective as team manager.
IPSWICH under-18 girls coach Leonie Young is taking a promising side to the state titles in Cairns this weekend.
While having an abundance of talent, she said the team's major goal was retaining its spot in the top division.
"The teams in Div 1 are pretty even this year," Young said, with Ipswich in pool A with Brisbane 1, Gold Coast, Cairns 1 and Mackay.
"I'm not quite sure what Mackay are going to be like. We didn't see them or Cairns at the Southern Cross (tournament). But the girls know they are going to have to work hard."
The Ipswich team has benefited from eight training sessions, including seeing the Queensland Scorchers at a recent visit to Ipswich.
"We've got very few that have followed through from last year's team that got to Div 1," she said.
"We've actually got a lot of younger girls, a lot of 14-year-olds in the team this year."
The team also includes players involved in last weekend's A-grade and Reserve grade grand finals between Hancocks and Swifts.
State titles squads
Ipswich under-18 boys: Kyah Andrew-Sharrad (goalkeeper), Jarrod Brown, Jay Pavitt, Kai Douglas, Shaun Pratt, Ayrton Coolwell, Brent Potbury, Sam Morgan, Brayden Thomas, Luke Haley, Zac Hoyland-Meaker, Charlie Davies, Matthew Westphal, Nathan Smith, Kai McMillan, Kyle Dolan. Coach: Mark Sharrad. Manager: Jamie Burns.
Ipswich under-18 girls: Natalie Davison (c), Emma Johnson (vc), Chloe Wilks (gk), Rhiannon Sue, Miranda McNamara, Jessica Fox, Yasmin Leeder, Sophie Stenner, Shannon Conway, Jaimee Prasser, Mckenna Evans-Doherty, Brooke Pavitt, Ashleigh Wall, Grace Collins, Zoe Fox, Crystal Brown. Coach: Leonie Young. Manager: Sharon Fox.