Whilst Brothers celebrated a colts triple crown in 2020, claiming premierships in Colts 1,2 and 3, for Premier Grade, they narrowly missed out on finals and will be rueing missed opportunities.
With new head coach Brendan Gabbett at the helm, making his return to Crosby Park where he was previously an assistant coach before spending some time at GPS, a new era dawns at Brothers, with some former Brothers greats overseeing the operation.
Former Queensland and Wallabies coach John Connolly, a Brothers stalwart, has returned to the club and will be assisting the coaching staff in 2021.
“I’m Really excited to be back at Brothers, I enjoyed my time at GPS, but excited to be home,” said Gabbett.
“We have plenty of talent, especially the colts guys. Brothers has always had solid recruitment and have players emerging from the pathway system, now we need to get this guys playing senior grade Rugby.
“We have a lot of experience in coaching staff, not just John, but all the coaches – Tom Court, Kelevi Tuicolo and the reserve grade coaches.
“Working with John, it’s a great benefit as a coaching staff and as a whole we’re excited about it.
“A lot of experience, not just John, but all the coaches, Tom Court and Kelevi, all our reserve grade coaches are experienced, working with John the benefit we will have is a group and the coaching structure as a whole we’re excited about.”
While Gabbett wasn’t coaching at Brothers in 2020, he watched from affair as narrow margins cost the Brethren their chance to contest the finals.
“Missed opportunities,” he said.
“I think they were one kick away from winning the comp, given the talent they would have had coming back from the Reds for the finals I think they would’ve been competitive in the finals.”
Brothers have arguably been victims of their own success, with players including Ryan Smith and Lawson Creighton called into the Reds squad, and with the likes of Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight progressing through to the Wallabies. With Crosby Parks best talent unavailable for the majority of the abbreviated season, it would be understandable for the Brethren to use that as an excuse, however the club sees it as a badge of honour.
“We want to promote that, we want to promote our pathway,” said Gabbett.
“We want out guys to progress through juniors, then colts, into senior Rugby and then hopefully go on to play professionally.
“You can’t promote that and then be disappointed when you don’t have the services of those players anymore. At the end of the day, it is about the individual player and we want to reach their potential and it’s our jobs to prepare them as best we can to succeed in a professional environment.”
Brothers have two key focuses heading into 2021, as they look to welcome the next generation of Brethren into the senior ranks.
“We want to compete in all facets of the game,” said Gabbett.
“We want solid set piece, solid attack and solid defence – we want to have as complete of a game as possible.
“In terms of transitioning colts through to seniors we have a good formula and even as colt players they sit on the bench in reserve grade and start to get some game time. There will be a few players to look out for this year.”
Phoenix Hunt – Easts
Richard Clift – UQ
Ash Watson – UQ
Jadion Christian – UQ
Blaise Barnes – Randwick
Kirisome Auva’a – Rugby League NRL
Rohan Saifoloi – Shute Shield
Matt Mafi – GPS
Brad Kapa - UQ
PLAYER TO WATCH – PHOENIX HUNT AND SAM HYNE
With Reuben Wall ruled out for an extended period, Brothers have welcomed former Easts scrumhalf Phoenix Hunt to Crosby Park.
Hunt has been looked in a two-way tussle with Eli Pilz for the nine-jersey over the past few seasons, and in 2020 Pilz was the preferred choice leaving Hunt hungry for more minutes in first grade.
“Phoenix is screaming for an opportunity at Premier Grade level, we’re excited to see how he manages a game of Rugby,” said Gabbett.
Hyne has been a mainstay at Brothers over the past few seasons, but injury has prevented him from building regular back-to-back matches, but he is fit and ready for what lies ahead in 2021.
“Sam has the attributes to play professionally, he just needs an opportunity to show that.”
OPPOSITION PLAYER TO WATCH – JONO KENT (WESTS)
Jono Kent has made the move from Yoku to Sylvan Road in the offseason and having worked with him at GPS over the past few seasons, Gabbett is looking forward to see how he tackles a new challenge.
“I love Jono,” said Gabbett.
“He’s a good guy and he’s made the move to Wests to play flyhalf and I’ve excited to see how he travels.”