Swifts Rugby League Club coach Albert Talipeau (left) and recruits David Heketoa (centre) and Jacob Schulz prepare for the new season.
Swifts Rugby League Club coach Albert Talipeau (left) and recruits David Heketoa (centre) and Jacob Schulz prepare for the new season. David Nielsen

Talipeau faces up to challenges

ALBERT Talipeau is worried.

With only 25 players turning up to training across three grades each Tuesday and Thursday, the rookie Swifts Ipswich Rugby League coach is wondering where his debut season in charge is heading.

Adding to his concern is last year’s coach Wayne Finch, the heart and soul of the club who inspired its 2011 revival, appears unlikely to help Talipeau in an assistant’s role, as he had hoped.

“The numbers have not really turned up,” Talipeau said.

“I’ve heard it was the same thing the past three years, but I thought after winning the grand final, there’d be a lot more.”

But before anyone starts writing off the Bluebirds’ hopes in 2011, it ought to be known that last year’s entire A grade squad, except for Michael Short (retired) and Wes Conlon (Souths Logan), have returned.

On top of that they have added New Zealand five-eighth/fullback David Heketoa, formerly of the Papakura Sea Eagles in New Zealand’s premier competition, the Bartercard Cup, and former Fassifern utility Misi Ahoafi.

The problem lies with the club’s under-18s.

All but five of last year’s team, which finished third behind Springfield and South Burnett, have moved into the seniors.

The remaining five are all training with the Ipswich Jets.

While Talipeau could put energies into the top squad and accept the 18s as a lost cause, it is not why he signed on to coach the club.

“I am really focused on the 18s,” he said.

“They are the future of the club so it’s a worrying sign.”

Such is Talipeau’s dedication to the long-term future of the club, he knocked back the chance to sign a number of former Queensland Cup players from Souths Logan in favour of keeping faith in the players who served the club so well last year.

“We had to look after the local boys,” Talipeau said.

Under-18s aside, Finch’s departure has hit home to Talipeau how much responsibility he carries this year.

Fail and any potential coaching career could be in tatters.

“There is a lot of expectation from the club’s point of view and the public,” he said.

“When you’ve got good teams like Brothers and Goodna who think we’re the benchmark.

“For us to win, we’ve got to train even harder.

“I’ve got to deal with what I’ve got and keep faith in my players.

“There are challenges in life and as a coach I’ve got to expect them.

“Every day I want to keep improving, from a player’s point of view and as a bloke, by helping players out, whether on the field or off.”



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