As we continue our Queensland Premier Rugby club previews ahead of the 2020 Hospital Challenge Cup season, it’s time to take a look at how the minor premiers - Brothers - are shaping up.
WRAPAfter falling to the University of Queensland in last year’s Hospital Challenge Cup decider, there’s no shortage of motivation for Brothers this season.
2019 was an incredible year for the club as a whole, winning the Horsley Cup (Premier Grade minor premiership) and Doughty Shield (club championship) as they qualified for eight Grand Finals across the grades, before ultimately falling short in the top grade with a five-point Grand Final loss to UQ.
The side has retained the majority of their young core, while Anthony Mathison will return to the club as head coach after Rod Seib took up a role with the Queensland Reds Academy program.
A number of those youngsters look likely to miss much of the season, with Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson making the transition to Super Rugby with the Reds, while Michael Wood continues to recover from injury.
The playmaking quartet of Reuben Wall, Rohan Saifoloi, Paddy James and Lawson Creighton will again be in action for the butcher’s stripes, with their combination and experience giving Brothers one of the competition’s best backlines.
Up front, the Brethren will be without prop Garrath Ryan who has retired, whilst Brisbane City lock Ryan Smith will also miss part of the season after taking up an opportunity in Canberra with the Brumbies.
The loss of those two key forwards means the club may look to their already deep grades program to bolster their pack, with the experience of skipper Tom Moloney and second rower Brad Kapa key to the Brethren’s push for a title.
Byron Ralston is another casualty of last season, after he took an opportunity with the Western Force, with last year’s Queensland U19s Player of the Year Josh Flook likely to build on his Premier Grade experience in Ralston’s boots after featuring for Brothers in the 2019 finals series.
Queensland Reds inside centre Hamish Stewart has made the move to Crosby Park for 2020 and may play a pivotal role for the side in the latter stages of the season, while the Brethren have also recruited a number of international and cross-code players to further bolster their playing stocks.
With depth across the grades and the motivation to go one better after the disappointment of last season, 2020 could be the year for Brothers.
THE INSIDE WORD“It’s been exciting to get back. The quality of players and the group that is on board is exciting to work with and it’s good to reconnect with a number of players who were there when I was last at Brothers and see where they’ve got to in their careers.
“From where they were the year before, to see them compete in a Grand Final, even though they didn’t quite get the result at the end of the day, it was an enormous improvement from not playing finals the year before.
“To see the development of a lot of those younger players and where they’ve got to in their careers was a fantastic achievement for those players and the club.
“We haven’t spoken directly about it (the grand final loss), but it’s within the group.
“A lot of those guys want to win a premiership, there are a lot of young guys there who are yet to do that and also some guys who are further on in their careers and realise that this is a really good opportunity for this group to do something special and they’re doing everything they can to try and do that.
“There are a lot of very good players at Brothers and there’s a lot of competition in a number of spots and our pre-season has been really encouraging.
“We looked at what worked well last year and what we could further develop in our game and we’ve had really good buy-in from our playing group because they do want to do well and be successful.”