Sport

Tigers trio unite

FAMILY FORCE: Hillier brothers (from left) Marcus, Michael and Robert have teamed up to help Norths in the upcoming cricket season.
FAMILY FORCE: Hillier brothers (from left) Marcus, Michael and Robert have teamed up to help Norths in the upcoming cricket season. David Nielsen

AS ONE Hillier steps back, two step forward for Northsiders this season.

Co-coach Michael Hillier will relinquish his playing role to focus on cricket coaching duties. As he does, brothers Robert and Marcus Hillier return for last season's Ipswich competition semi-finalists.

Michael Hillier hopes to lean on the experience of his brothers as the Tigers look to improve upon a promising 2016/17 campaign.

Robert and Marcus return to the Tigers' line-up after a period away and Michael expects his siblings to provide a veteran presence at the crease "so long as the bodies hold up”.

"Marcus will still be a co-coach with me, but he will play this year after a couple of years off,” Michael said.

"Robert has decided he'll have a game. He'll be a handy bowling all-rounder for us.

"They'll be massive inclusions. It will help (in tight games) because they've both played in grand finals before.”

Aside from opener Matt Fairhurst, the Tigers retain the bulk of their roster ahead of the October 7 one-day series opener.

Captain Ryan Benson, opening bowler Kevin Cumming and opener Jordan Alegre all return as key pieces of the Tigers' puzzle.

Norths' mainstay Dominic Salton and all-rounder Dylan Blackman have also committed to this season.

Hillier admitted Fairhurst's exit would be felt at the top of the order, but he is confident a number of key additions can more than cover the absence.

"Fairhurst was a good player for us, he scored a really good century against Laidley in the semi-final last year but can't commit to a full year which is disappointing,” Hillier said.

"(But) Troy Cooper has come over from Wynnum Manly, he has played some grade cricket in Brisbane and looks a really handy right-hand bat.

"He's really been ripping in at training, and we're expecting good things from Troy. He'll probably open for us.”

Jacob Hislop, son of club legend Kent Hislop, returns after a year away from the Tigers and has impressed Michael with his work ethic.

Former Thunder leg-spinner Justin Elkins makes the jump after the team dropped its first grade side.

Callum Wilton comes to the Tigers refreshed from a year on the sidelines.

If their training ground form translates to game day, Hillier is confident the Tigers can give all three competitions a real shake this season.

"With the guys that have come back, alongside the new additions I think we're better placed now than at this time last year,” he said.

"There is a really good feel around the club. Our depth is quite good, and I'd like to think we have a talented enough squad to make a play for the finals in all competitions.”

Hillier said the club are still looking for further additions to the roster in first, second and third grades.

"Anyone is welcome to come along and play for us, they'll definitely enjoy it,” he said.

"We do things a bit differently, with a real emphasis on fun, skills and fitness.”

And if the Northsiders do break through this season, Hillier said the bulk of the credit should go to president Stephen Humphreys and vice president Scott Fryer.

The pair oversaw an off-season push which brought in 12 new sponsors and provided new playing gear for the club.

Topics:  hillier ipswich cricket northside tigers