FINE VALUES: The Norths Blue under-13 rugby league side that qualified for this year's grand final.
FINE VALUES: The Norths Blue under-13 rugby league side that qualified for this year's grand final. Rachel Williamson

Why these footballers are 'brilliant kids' to coach

HAVING coached at the club for 18 years, Norths Blue under-13 mentor Brett McCabe has seen plenty of young footballers rise through the Ipswich competition ranks.

He praised his latest side for being among the most enjoyable to coach.

"They are all just brilliant kids,'' McCabe said guiding the under 13s for the first time after working with Norths' under-17 side the past two years.

"They are respectful.

"A lot of them have got other strings to their bow and ability.''

Preparing for Friday night's grand final against Goodna Black, McCabe said developing Norths' junior talent and building community associations proved rewarding for the club and the young footballers.

This year's Norths Blue under-13 team includes a mix of Norths juniors from younger grades, along with league newcomers from St Edmund's College and a group of boarders from Ipswich Grammar School.

"It's a great relationship,'' McCabe said of working with Ipswich schools like St Edmund's and IGS.

"I find it rewarding, especially the last few years.

"I had 17s the last two years and had a lot of boarders in those sides.

"It's a good reward for those kids because they are away from home and it gives them some community connection.''

McCabe said the rugby league newcomers proved valuable additions to his home-bred squad.

"Everyone has accepted the Ipswich Grammar School boarders into the club,'' the coach said.

McCabe was also impressed how some of the Norths development league youngsters improved during this season.

That was particularly important after Norths were in a similar situation finishing second heading into last year's finals series before missing out on the grand final.

"This year, it was a lot about building their confidence back up and making them have a belief,'' McCabe said.

"Winning last Friday night (beating Brothers White 32-16 in the preliminary final) was a real base for the boys.

"They took a lot out of it.''

McCabe appreciated the support of his assistant coach Craig Laing, manager Martin Sammut and his wife Christine.

Norths Blue's captain is Craig's son Harry.

The team also includes lock Jack Laing, an Ipswich Diggers junior representative player this year.

"It was not a large squad but certainly all of them showed a willingness to learn,'' the coach said.

And McCabe has returned the favour, watching his Norths recruits play rugby for their school.

"It gives them a sense of belonging,'' he said. "You want them to grow as people and they are so respectful and well mannered. It's a credit to the school as well as their parents.''



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