Goodna bracing for kick-off after ‘worst ever’ footy battle
AS a former Ipswich Rugby League chairman, Jack Rhea knows as well as anyone about the challenges the game often faces.
He tackled and overcame many obstacles in his long-time roles with the IRL (now Rugby League Ipswich), with the referees association and at clubs like Goodna and Redbank.
With the 2021 Rugby League Ipswich season kicking off this weekend, Rhea has endured one of his toughest times as Goodna club president.
Despite the Eagles winning last year's Volunteers Cup competition during the COVID impacted season, Goodna has struggled to secure player numbers this year.
"It's the worst year ever. It's been a battle,'' Rhea said.
"A lot of blokes retired.
"A year off last year, a lot of blokes decided to sit at home on Sunday instead of playing football.
"A lot of young blokes are off playing 21s with the Jets, which is what we want anyway.''
Last year's stars like pointscoring machine Bessie Aufaga-Toomaga are playing for Intrust Super Cup teams like the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
However, there's some positive news for the traditionally powerful Ipswich club.
With Goodna set to play West End in Sunday's A-Grade clash at Woogaroo Field, Rhea was confident the Eagles would field a side to get the season up and running.
"We'll have an A-Grade,'' he declared.
Rhea said Goodna were also eager to field a Reserve Grade team, after initially having concerns they may have to withdraw from that competition.
He said West End had offered some players for Reserve Grade to help out if the Bulldogs have excess numbers from their A-Grade side.
Another boost for Goodna is having loyal clubman Justin Swney coaching the A-Grade side.
The ex-navyman has been a familiar face at the Goodna club for many years.
He featured in four A-Grade successes, before moving to Reserve Grade and helping out the club's division two side.
His most recent success was coaching Goodna's premiership-winning Reserve Grade outfit in 2019.
"He's got the runs on the board,'' Rhea said.
Rhea said Goodna's main focus this season was rebuilding for next year.
The club hasn't been able to field a side in the 2021 under-19 competition.
As Goodna prepares to host West End in Sunday's 3pm clash at Richardson Park, the club has received another much needed kickalong.
The club's dressing sheds have been refurbished in time for the new season.
In other A-Grade games this weekend, the new Jets team host Swifts at Rosewood on Saturday afternoon and Fassifern tackles Brothers at Hayes Oval on Sunday.
Norths have a first round bye in the seven-team competition.