Tabke takes rise in his stride
AMONG the familiar names leading Brothers’ charge in the Ipswich Rugby League this season, there is one who is happy to remain anonymous.
While Michael Ryan, Mat Cameron, Dan Coburn, Anthony Fowler and Fili Notoa are renowned for their match-winning achievements, Josh Tabke has quietly gone about his business as one of the team’s most consistent performers this season.
Tabke grew up in Marburg and played for Lowood Tarampa for years before joining the Ipswich Jets in 2009, where he played FOGS Cup before injury ended his season prematurely.
He took last year off footy to focus on work but was keen to get back into it this year.
But after playing for the Jets, going back to Lowood Tarampa in the Challenge Cup didn’t appeal to the 22-year-old carpenter, who now lives in Fernvale with his partner.
Tabke was looking for a different sort of challenge and found it when he received a call from a friend with ties to Brothers.
“He said they could use a few props,” Tabke said.
With club stalwart Tyrone Day retiring at the end of last season, Brothers coach Heath McQueen was looking for a similar sort of player. One he could rely on to cart the ball up all afternoon with a minimum of fuss.
“He came to the club and said to me: ‘Will I get a fair go’?” McQueen said.
“I said: ‘Everyone gets a fair go when I’m coaching. If you’re the best bloke, I’ll give you the job’.”
At the time, Tabke’s goal was to play a few games in A grade.
“I’m pretty happy with how the year’s gone so far,” he said, not surprisingly given he was a regular starter in the top grade all season until injuring a hamstring last month.
It says something that he has kept his place in a team that includes Sione Piutau, Cameron and Fowler – arguably the best three front rowers in the competition in recent years.
Tabke was also picked in the Ipswich Diggers side that pushed the Gold Coast to within two points in May.
“He’s probably been on a bigger learning curve than anyone else in the team,” McQueen said.
“He’s probably gone from being the best in the side at Lowood to playing alongside blokes who have played in the NRL.
“It has probably taken him a while to adjust and realise no-one is interested in his opinion.”
McQueen may not care for his opinion, but has certainly valued Tabke’s ability.
“He was a great find,” the coach said. “He’s backed himself and we’ve missed him in the last couple of weeks.”
When asked about the “learning curve”, country boy Tabke doesn’t make a big deal out of it.
“It was pretty much what I expected,” he said of joining the Raceview-based club.
“A bit more professional – the attitude to training. I didn’t have any problems with it.
“You’ve got to prepare well, train well and take the right attitude into games. I was a bit blasé when I was young.”
He has the perfect examples alongside him in Cameron, Fowler, Ryan and Coburn.
The former WestMAC and Lowood State High product doesn’t know what the future holds beyond this season.
“I’ll weigh up what’s in front of me next year,” he said. “Whether it’s with Brothers or the Jets.
“I’d like to have another crack but whether or not I’m ready yet, I’m not sure.”