Lower expectations a weight off Brahmans’ back
WITH all the chat in Mackay rugby league circles focusing on Sarina, Wests and Moranbah, the 2019 premiers are glad few are checking up on them this pre-season.
The Proserpine side has brought out another five signings, which coach Tye Ingebrigtsen said he is sure will become key figures in the side.
The Brahmans might not have marquee players to match the likes of NRL and Super League talent in other clubs, but Ingebrigtsen said his men were far from defenceless.
"We know what we have to come up against every week," he said.
"We understand the calibre of the players who will be brought into the competition so now it's just about making sure we can match it."
First of the new Brahmans' recruits are Adam Wickins and Luke Strasser, who played with the West Brisbane Panthers in the BRL.
"They're going to be in the spine. Wickens will play one, Luke will play seven, so they have key roles.
"Our success will go hand-in-hand with what they can bring," Ingebrigtsen said.
NSW signing Jon Huggett, from Albury Thunder, is another addition, one Ingebrigtsen is confident will be capable commanding the forward pack.
"In this competition you'll want some blokes who don't shy away from the hard stuff," the Whitsunday coach said.
"We're going to be coming up against some big forward packs and we think he's going to be a great signing for the middle to lead our forward pack around."
Five-eighth Brendan Cox and outside back Dylan Rantoul, who both went through the Canterbury Bulldogs Under-18, U20 systems, are also joining the squad, along with Jalen Tangiti Turner, who played 2019 with the Wynnum Manly Hastings Deering Colts team, which made the grand final.
Turner will be a critical piece in the centres or wing.
Ingebrigtsen said his biggest focus would be to continue the Brahman's strong defence this year.
Last year it had one of the competition's physically strongest forward packs, but their ability to play the ball across the field was pivotal in breaking down other defensive stalwarts like Wests.
"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, our variety in attack and our shape will change slightly," Ingebrigtsen said.
"We have to always make sure we're keeping the opposition guessing. We don't want to just do what we did last year because it worked. If the other teams are smart enough, they'll see that and think 'they're running the same style as they did last year, we know how to defend that now'."
After losing 10 players from 2019 Ingebrigtsen said he had planned an intense pre-season to help the new roster gel.
"We lost a lot of really experienced players and valuable players. So a big thing for us is how quickly we can adjust together," he said.
"I think a lot of clubs are like that, a few have recruited really heavily. What's going to help us a lot is the four-pre-season games we have. I really want to make sure our combinations are clicking by then."
Ingebrigtsen understands why Sarina, Wests and Moranbah were painted as early favourites.
The coach prefers all eyes to stay on those three teams so his men can focus on what they need to do to defend their title.
"There's no shying away from how hard it will be to play against these clubs now, but I think that's what the whole season is going to be like," he said.
"I love what they're doing for the competition. They're bringing key, experienced players in; it makes people excited, I'm excited to coach against them, it makes our players excited to play against them and I think local kids will be excited to come and watch them."
Ingebrigtsen said if anything the circumstance might help his roster in the long run.
"If we don't win the comp in 2020 no one is going to point at us and wonder why.
"These clubs with big name players are now expected to win, so they get that pressure now," he said.
Brahmans' gains and losses
Gains: Jon Hugget, Dylan Rintoul, Brendan Cox, Luke Strasser, Joel Mayne, Adam Wickins, Jaymon Moore, Jalen Tangiti-Turner.
Losses: Ivan Petelo, Augustus Rangihuna, Scott Evans, Adam Crear, James Salter, Rainer Power, Michael Newman, Sam Gardel, Adam Curtis, David Kay.