Future star, water runner boost Tigers for shot at Eagles
RISING Norths talent Lachlan Williamson won't be the only Tigers addition eager to get a crack at Volunteers Cup competition leaders Goodna on Saturday night.
Loyal Norths player Jacob Stephan, who has been a water runner in recent weeks, is also keen to start on the bench and seize any opportunity on a big day for the Tigers.
As Norths Old Boys host a 1980 reunion marking a rare Grand Slam feat, coach Mick Newton is looking at multiple options to quell the high-flying, unbeaten Eagles in the match of the round.
"They're tough. They are going well,'' Newton said of runaway pacesetters Goodna.
"They are well and truly the leaders of this comp at the moment.
"They deserve to have that first position the way they are travelling. They are the ones to knock off. They're the benchmark.''
Goodna has six consecutive victories in the inaugural intercity series where Toowoomba Valleys are also a major threat.
However, the Tigers are likewise progressing in the right direction being in equal second with four wins.
That is despite Newton having to use 32 players due to injuries and unavailability.
The experienced Norths coach is pleased to see the enthusiasm of Ipswich State High School Langer Cup co-captain Williamson and the ever-dependable Stephan wanting to play.
"I'm taking him (Williamson) on to the bench and at some stage hopefully can get him on,'' Newton said.
"He's a talent. It would be good to be able to give him a start.
"We'll just see how the game goes.''
Newton waited until the Norths junior completed his school commitments before considering the regular halfback to make his A-Grade debut.
"It is a big game and they (Goodna) are big boys too and Lachy is not the biggest crop of the lot,'' Newton said. "But he's keen as mustard and he can fill a few spots for us as well.
"One of the reasons we haven't given him a go a little bit earlier is because of his schoolboy football. After that was finished, there's an opportunity to see if we can slot him in somewhere.''
After a tough series of Langer Cup schoolboy competition, including a semi-final, Williamson said he would fulfil whatever role Newton had for him in A Grade.
"Mick's been very good with it,'' Williamson said.
"He's been very supportive. He's understood what kind of a competition it (Langer Cup) was.''
Aged 18, Williamson has risen through the Norths junior program sharing in multiple premierships since under-9.
Having co-captained Ipswich State High's Langer Cup side, the player of the future hopes to follow another Tigers teammate Ty Humphreys who scored a hat-trick tries on his recent A-Grade debut.
"Especially playing with Ty at club and stuff, all the way through the juniors, seeing Ty come this far is exciting,'' Williamson said.
"If Mick wants me to play first grade, I'll play wherever he wants me at this stage.''
As for Stephan who has past grand final experience, Newton said the big forward was also raring to fire.
"He's just had enough of running water,'' Newton said. "He wants to get out and have a go.
"I hope to give him five or 10 minutes as well.''
The Norths Old Boys Reunion on Saturday will celebrate the club's finest achievement - winning all five grades (A, Reserve, C, Under 18 and Under 16) in the same 1980 season.
Club supporters will also relive Norths 1995 A-Grade premiership success as part of their turn to host a full round of Rugby League Ipswich Volunteers Cup matches.
The seventh round of games kick off at Keith Sternberg Oval, North Ipswich, at 1.30pm.
Saturday Volunteers Cup Round 7: A t Norths ground, Pelican Street, North Ipswich
1.30pm: Souths v Valleys
3.30pm: Gatton v West End
5.30pm: Norths v Goodna