New head coach Todd Dammers will lead a young group of Magpies into 2020 after helping the club to claim both Colts 1 and Colts 2 titles last year. Let's check in with how things are shaping up at Chipsy Wood Oval for the season ahead.
After sitting in third place at the midway point of the 2019 season, the Magpies faltered in the latter part of last year, winning just three of their final eight games to finish in sixth overall.
The same couldn’t be said for their Colts sides, with both Souths’ Colts 1 and 2 teams winning their respective competitions, the first time the club has completed the double in its history.
Those youngsters loom as some of the key players for the Magpies this year, with Todd Dammers, who oversaw the premiership-winning Colts 1 side, taking on the Premier Grade head coach role and banking on a number of his young guns to make the step up into Hospital Challenge Cup Rugby.
The likes of front rowers Theo Fourie and Phransis Sulu-Siaosi and bustling winger Viliami Lea will all play a role in the top grade at Chipsy Wood Oval, while promising scrumhalf Kalani Thomas, who is in his first year out of Ipswich Grammar School, could also see Premier Grade minutes later in the season.
The youth movement in Yeronga comes after a number of seasoned first graders left the club in the off-season, including playmakers Teti Tela and Jake Strachan, front rowers Jake Simeon and Alex Casey and outside backs Emori Waqavulagi and Mika Tela.
Alongside their boom Colts, the Magpies have also recruited a number of new faces to fill the void of their off-season departures, including experienced fullback Luke Samoa, who has played international Rugby for Romania, promising Jeeps prop Jonah Polonga and Kiwi flyhalf Roman Prasad.
Queensland Reds squad member Sean Farrell is set for his biggest season in the black and white yet, with the young hooker having another full professional season under his belt and the appetite to continue to take his game to new heights.
Dammers is another huge inclusion for the club, with the new head coach’s vast experience in the coaching world and successful record with a number of his current players boding well for the Magpies in 2020.
Youth is in fashion at Chipsy Wood, and the young Magpies will be raring to show they have what it takes in Premier Rugby this season.
THE INSIDE WORD
“They were pretty handy last year, but there were some key games where they just couldn’t get it done.
“They had some good early season form and were a good side, I think they were probably just unlucky in a few tight games.
“It was something that anyone who involved with is pretty proud of. From our point of view, it’s a pretty good story in that we were wooden spooners in both Colts 1 and 2 in 2017, and then to win the double in both, which has never been done at Souths before, within two seasons was great.
“We’ve got about ten or 11 of those young guys floating in and around that Premier Grade and Reserve Grade squad at the moment and they’re good kids, it’s going to take time to find their groove but they’re good footballers, and at the end of the day it’s still a game, just a bit faster with some bigger players.
“We’re just trying to get fit and healthy and enjoy our footy. For me it’s just about making sure these guys are prepared to play and once they’re out there it’s up to them, we’re just trying to make them as fit and prepared as possible.
“It’s no excuse, we want to win. They’re going to have to learn on the run and learn really quickly, because they’re still playing first grade, and the moment you put that jersey on you’re a first grader.
“The expectation is that they’ll be competing, and there’ll be little hiccups along the way no doubt, but we just have to make sure we learn immediately or on the run.”
- Todd Dammers
PLAYER TO WATCH
Young prop Phransis Sulu-Siaosi is one of a number of young Magpies pushing for a spot in the Premier Grade side after helping the Premier Colts outfit to the title in 2019. Sulu-Siaosi’s played for Queensland Country in last year’s U19 Rugby Championship, and has been in Junior Wallabies camp this year, making him one of Queensland’s most promising front row prospects. He’ll have lessons to learn in the top grade this year, but this club is backing him to make the jump and make it well.