Seupule's return sparks Goodna's Barber Cup run
AFTER three years in the wind, coach Walter Seupule has returned to the Goodna Gladiators and is eyeing a breakthrough Barber Cup premiership.
The 41 year-old player-coach was ousted from the club after the 2013 season, but when the Gladiators struggled to reach the heady heights they desired, Goodna rolled out the red carpet for Seupule's return prior to the 2017 season.
His influence was noticeable from the get-go, and after an impressive eight-win season Seupule's side positioned themselves in second on the Barber Cup ladder.
That string of wins booked a qualifying final berth against table-topping Pine Rivers on Saturday. The winner will punch their ticket to the Barber Cup grand final.
Courtesy of a four-game winning run, the Gladiators are arguably the form team of the competition, and Seupule warned we are yet to see the best of his side this season.
"We haven't even played to our full potential yet," Seupule declared when discussing his side's winning run.
"I've never had my strongest 15 (players) on the field all year, we always have two or three from our starting line-up missing."
That should send alarm bells through the Pine Rivers camp who, despite leading the competition with 10 wins from 12 outings, stumbled to a 35-24 defeat to Goodna on August 12.
The coach is confident of a repeat performance - it is the third-placed Wynnum side that Seupule is wary of.
"Pine Rivers are a very physical team, but we can match them in that and we probably outplayed them in that area last time," Seupule said.
"But a team like Wynnum who are fit and quick, they play the game at a frantic pace and we can struggle to keep up with that at times."
It was a heavy 40-24 loss to Wynnum on July 15 which sparked the Gladiators' revival, and Seupule pointed to his forwards as the architects of change.
"The loss (to Wynnum) was just waiting to happen," Seupule recalled.
"But after that we played Ipswich and beat them 58-10 - our forward pack totally dominated in that game. It was then we decided it was time to really put in the effort and stop thinking everything will just happen for us."
Goodna and Pine Rivers butt heads at Redlands RFC on Saturday at 3pm.
Prior to that, the Goodna-Pine Rivers rivalry begins in the Pegg Cup qualifying finals at 1pm.