Norths work on IRL trifecta
THE start of the 2016 Ipswich Rugby League season is fast approaching and new Norths A-grade coach Anthony O'Brien is confident his side has what it takes to complete a premiership trifecta.
Norths won the past two A-grade premierships under former coach Mick Newton.
His replacement O'Brien hoped to continue the momentum into 2016.
"I've spoken to him (Newton) a couple of times and he's been very helpful," O'Brien said.
"I'm not going to try and reinvent the wheel; we've kept the majority of the side from last year with a few new blokes.
"The aim is to keep that competitive edge, work on team defence and stick to what is important."
As the assistant coach of the Norths A-grade grand finalists in 2006, O'Brien said there were a few familiar faces waiting for him at Cribb Park.
"It's good being back at Norths," he said.
"It's all been very positive and a few of the guys I used to coach are still around."
O'Brien (pictured) said he was lucky to have a strong leadership group of players to draw from and to help bring the younger players up to speed.
"There is a pretty experienced core group of players in the side who know what it takes," he said.
"Having those experienced guys lending their advice to the younger players is a great asset and helps me a lot as well."
As the coach of the Brothers premiership Colts side last year, O'Brien is familiar with the wealth of talented players waiting in the wings at Norths.
"Most of the Norths under 19 side were bottom age last year, so they should go well this season," he said.
"There were a few that played a bit (in seniors) last season and I do expect a few to get a run to see how they handle it.''
This season Norths has introduced a reserve squad bristling with talent and a chance at the top level.
The squad will help blood new players into the senior side and provide a pathway for players to show their commitment to the club.
With a number of key players tied up with baseball through the summer, O'Brien said he wasn't concerned about their absence from training.
"We've got a few like Josh Roberts and Andrew Campbell playing with the Musketeers who look like they might make the (baseball) grand final,'' he said.
"Those guys are playing at a decent level and keeping fit so they will be ready to go once the season starts."
After training twice a week through the summer, O'Brien said his side was eager to get underway. "It's all been so positive and everyone is on a high at the moment and looking forward to the year,'' he said.
The first test for the returning premiers will be at the Rugby League Ipswich 9s Carnival Day on February 27.
Teams of 12 players a side will put their pre-season training to the test in the fast format where fitness will be key.
The start of the 2016 competition will be marked by a Super Saturday on April 9, with all six premier clubs playing at North Ipswich Reserve.