Wests receive welcome boost after working on fitness
THE return of skilful Jarrod Brown and full-time availability of exciting talent Caleb McCoombes has given the Wests men a boost for the 2019 Ipswich hockey season.
Queensland Blades squad member Brown is keen to play for Wests when he can this season after missing last year due to injury and representative commitments.
Centre half McCoombes has decided to focus on the Ipswich competition rather than trying to play in two A-Grade series this season.
Wests coach Greg Walker was thrilled to have the duo back with the Magpies, along with quality young players like representative goalkeeper Matt West.
"That's a bonus for us,'' Walker said, welcoming the additional player support.
"We've pretty much kept most of the guys from last year. I don't think anyone has left or not playing.
"It's a fairly young side now, pretty fit.''
The Magpies have been training since January, doing fitness work with Daniel Westphal who has a knee injury and wants to stay involved with the team while at university.
Wests recently beat Toowoomba Past High 9-2 in a productive trial as the A-Grade combination focuses on a new season.
"Everything seems to be running smooth so far,'' Walker said.
Long-time A-Grade player Walker is concentrating on coaching, being assisted by another Ipswich stalwart Todd Watson.
Watson is recovering from back surgery and may play later in the season.
"He's been back running and back with the boys but he's not 100 per cent yet,'' Walker said.
Grant Wingfield is managing the side again.
Defender Blair Iszlaub retains the captaincy having stepped into the role last year.
Walker hopes Wests can get back into the major finals mix.
"We were a little bit disappointed (with last year) but it does make it hard when you've only got the four (A-Grade) teams,'' he said.
"Another team in there would make it a bit more competitive in the push to not be knocked out of the semis.
"We'll just focus on what we're doing.''
Walker was also encouraged by a boost in Wests numbers playing in the Reserve and R2 grades.
The Wests Reserve Grade men beat Easts 5-2 in last year's grand final. "If we can keep all the junior guys there, that's a bonus,'' Walker said.