Record number of Ipswich players invited to train in reps
IPSWICH has never had so many players invited to train with the Queensland Suburban rugby union representative squad.
Jordan Leutele from the Ipswich Rangers is the only current player in the interstate side which will feature players from Ipswich and the Goodna Gladiators this year.
Queensland have had a poor record against their NSW rivals but with a number of Gladiators in the mix this time, Goodna coach Walter Seapule hopes this could be the start of a new chapter.
"We've got about eight guys who have been asked to come along and train with the team this year," Seapule said.
"They've struggled against NSW for the last 10 years or so because there's a massive difference in competition between us and them.
"They have five or six suburban competitions down there so there's a lot more depth to choose from. I think the Queensland coaches are starting to pick a team for the future and build towards that."
Minimal preparation time has hurt Queensland's chances in the past.
With an expanded competition this year, Seaupule hopes the underdogs can find some form.
"This year there's a few games which I think is good," he said.
"We play a Queensland country team and a touring team from New Zealand in the lead-up to playing NSW.
"Last year they only played the one game against NSW but this time they'll keep the squad together for those three games. So far we've been working on a lot of core drills and on our game plans and structure."
Daniel Melila, Jordan Leutele, Benson Pauga and Chris Togafana have been selected from the Ipswich Rangers.
They are joined by Goodna players Faigame Valoia, Shannon Turner, Taai Faanoi, Eden Smith, Mati Mati Alagaelua, Charles Tauvao, Liligiifo Savea and Seapule.
Confident at least two of his players will make the starting squad when the time comes, the Goodna coach said the representative call-up was a welcome reward for a great start to the Barber Cup competition.
"The turnout to training is getting better and better," he said. "We had a bye on the weekend and we still had 40 players turn up to training on the Tuesday.
"Instead of the game we decided to hold a training session and barbecue on the Saturday."
On July 1 the Gladiators will take on Pine Rivers for the Presidents Cup.
The trophy is played between the top two teams at the halfway point of the suburban competition, with the Gladiators to host the event at Evan Marginson Oval.
Taking a player/coach role this season, Seapule wants to bring the players together both on and off the field.
"Everyone in rugby wants to stop after the game and have a drink together," he said.
"But a lot of the guys at Goodna are strong in their religion and don't like to drink.
"I don't drink either but I still like to mingle with the guys and find that common ground. My challenge is to find that one thing that will being these boys all together.
"Everyone just needs to respect each others backgrounds.
"It's starting to happen now and you see the guys hang around to help out before and after the games. It's good for the club culture."
Goodna play Caboolture at home this weekend.
2017 QSRU representative team train-on squad.
Goodna Gladiators: Faigame Valoia, Walter Seupule, Shannon Turner, Taai Faanoi, Eden Smith, Mati Mati Alagaelua, Charles Tauvao and Liligiifo Savea.
Ipswich Rangers: Daniel Melila, Jordan Leutele, Benson Pauga and Chris Togafana.