LEADING THE WAY: Norths stalwart Dean Jeffrey works hard to beat Wests' chaser Todd Watson during an A-Grade match last year. Jeffrey is still playing an important role with Norths.
LEADING THE WAY: Norths stalwart Dean Jeffrey works hard to beat Wests' chaser Todd Watson during an A-Grade match last year. Jeffrey is still playing an important role with Norths. Franca Tigani

Players to watch: Norths ace guiding future generation

HOCKEY: Norths captain Dean "Deano'' Jeffrey is thrilled to see his side developing so much exciting talent this season.

Although it has been a constant battle for the Devils to field a full-strength A-Grade side, Jeffrey saw merit in getting the club's young players going sooner rather than later.

"I started at 13, somewhere around 2002,'' Jeffrey said, recalling his A-Grade debut.

"So it's good to see them come through.

"It's a totally different game to what it was back then. We had Dodger (Steve Rogers) and Mark Pocock and Morts (Glen Mortimer) and all those types of guys. It's changed a bit.''

With Jeffrey lining up with those past experienced players, Norths won a number of A-Grade premierships.

However, the line-up in Saturday night's mid-season final barely resembled a typical Norths side. Rising stars like Zac Profke, Jake Thornton, David Visser and Brad Walker carry the team's future fortunes.

While Norths were missing some players in the clash with Hancock Brothers, they showed plenty of fight. Norths only lost 1-0 at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.

"We've hardly ever had a full-strength team,'' Jeffrey said.

But that hasn't stopped regulars like Jeffrey, Andrew Pratt, Jeremy Dalais, Pat Jordan, Steven Ihle and Andrew Maddocks from guiding the youngsters into higher level hockey.

With Norths coach Steven Profke rotating the captaincy this season, Jeffrey was happy to do what the team needed.

"It doesn't really phase me,'' Jeffrey, 30, said. "I just like to go there and play my game.''

Once a dangerous attacking weapon, Jeffrey is more suited these days to anchoring Norths' defence.

"I'm getting a little bit older,'' he joked. "I'll stay at the back now.''

That's a role he expects to continue while representing Queensland Country at the upcoming national titles in Berri, South Australia.

"I've been told I'm in the back four so that's why I'm playing defensive out here,'' he said.

Jeffrey has been a regular state and national representative in country hockey for a number of years. That included stints with Queensland and South Australia and competing overseas for Australia.

"My first one was 2008,'' Jeffrey said of his country honours.

Norths lost their starting goalkeeper Cian McLaughlin in the first half of Saturday night's final after he felt extremely sick.

"He wasn't well,'' Jeffrey said. "He went home straight away. He wasn't in the best shape.''

The Bellbowrie Reserve Grade keeper has been helping out the Norths A-Grade team this season.

McLaughlin was replaced in the final by Norths' A2 keeper Shane Petersen, who did a fine job after rushing to put on his protective gear.

Another Bellbowrie player, Lachlan Pomerenke, has also been helping out Norths. He's a promising representative junior.

Jeffrey praised his team for doing so well to hold Hancocks to a single goal as the on-field drama unfolded.

State of play

A Grade men: Mid-season final - Hancock Brothers 1 d Norths 1-0; Wests drew Newtown 2-2.

A Grade women: Hancock Brothers d Norths Ipswich 4-0; Wests d Newtown 9-0.