The Norths Blue under-14 rugby league team that made this year's grand final.
The Norths Blue under-14 rugby league team that made this year's grand final.

Norths' true character shines through kids, parents

JUST to make Saturday's under-14 rugby league grand final was a major achievement for the Norths Blue side.

Although the second-placed Norths team is rich in quality, coach Brett McCabe and his assistants faced some anxious moments in the lead-up to reaching the finale.

After relying on players from Norths' Development League side throughout the year, Norths were almost left short-staffed for last Saturday's preliminary final at the North Ipswich Reserve.

With more than half the Norths' team involved in school rugby league and rugby commitments at Banyo or Southport on Saturday morning, many just arrived at North Ipswich Reserve in time to contest the Rugby League Ipswich final.

Norths went on to beat Brothers 27-14 after going down 20-10 to Goodna in the first week of finals.

Long-serving Norths coach McCabe praised his young players, their parents and club support for a mighty effort.

"We had boys coming back from Banyo that only just got back at kick-off time (2.30pm),'' he said.

"Then we had boys coming back from Southport who got there halfway through the first half.

"They were passionate about playing both games and that showed the character of the kids and their parents. They weren't going to make them sit out of one commitment and that's what the kids are like.

"They are very committed and aware what their responsibilities are.''

The young footballers who just made the RLI preliminary final were involved with Ipswich Grammar (rugby) and St Edmund's AIC matches the same day.

"The other boys who turned up out there, even some of the development players who stepped in for us, just gave it everything they had for the first 15 minutes while we were waiting for the cavalry to arrive.''

McCabe was delighted his team was only 4-0 down when the reinforcements came.

A Norths' coach for 19 years, McCabe guided the club's Premier League side that won last year's under-13 grand final.

"We struggled a bit with numbers of players across the two sides,'' he said, appreciative of the support and co-operation from Norths' Development League players and coaching staff.

"Even now we've got four or five boys who have come up over the last couple of weeks and filled positions where we're still looking upon as a complete age group.''

However, he hopes his team can replicate last year's under-13 grand final performance. Norths were unable to beat Goodna in the regular season before upstaging them in the title decider.

"Things went our way that day but we're definitely not relying on that,'' he said.

Yet to beat this year's Goodna side in three clashes, McCabe expected a tough but thrilling under-14 decider.

"They (Goodna) are a good side,'' he said. "They are well coached, well disciplined.

"Both sides are stacked with talent. It's just a matter of whose attitude is good on the particular day and also the preparation for us.''

Goodna and Norths had six Ipswich Diggers representatives each this season, with some players involved in the SEQ state carnival side.

The Norths Blue team is co-captained by second rower Mutua Brown and five-eight Harry Sammut, players that McCabe praised for having relaxed and calm leadership ability.