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Grades are in: Our heads of sport deliver their mid-year report cards

With our AFL, rugby and netball teams entering the second half of their home and away seasons, it is time for the mid-year report card.

The heads of our Tier 1 programs, Andy Lovell, Luca Liussi and Kim Boland have put their clubs under the microscope to identify the standout performers, ultimate teammates and season highlights.      

AFL

Andy Lovell

Surprise packet:  

AFL report card

Abby Bevan. She played a few years ago and then went off overseas. She walked in to training one night and has now played seven of the eight games and has been terrific at centre-half-forward and backing up in the ruck. In the absence of premiership key forward Lily Tarlington, who was drafted after the Grand Final win, she has assumed a key position for us. She is a reliable target who really straightens up our ball movement.

Miss Consistent: 

Shannon Nolan has been incredible. The gap between her best and worst is almost non-existent. Shannon was a fringe player last year but has now cemented herself as one of the first picked each week. She revealed at the end of last year that she would hide from me on Thursday nights because she was anxious about whether she would be in the team or not. She made a pledge to herself to get fitter and stronger over summer and she committed to it, training with our captain Paris Lightfoot at her gym. There’s no hiding this year, she has turned herself into a hardworking, small forward-outside midfielder. She has always been tenacious, but the team is starting to really benefit from her pace and skill.

Mr Personality:

Taylor Durso is a newcomer to The Canal this season. A highly regarded and respected schoolteacher from Kings College, his infectious energy lights up the place. By his own admission, he’s not in the top tier of talent within the group although what he brings far outweighs that. From day one the super positive energizer bunny became a favourite with the players and staff alike. He’s the first to training and the one who always stays back to help pack up. He’s what is great about this club and what it represents. 

Favourite moment: 

Felix Packer
The entire club celebrated Felix Packer's comeback from multiple knee reconstructions.  

Felix Packer’s comeback was something the entire club celebrated. He’s had wretched luck with consecutive knee injuries and worked incredibly hard to get himself back. He’s a highly talented key marking forward who is critical to our premiership campaign. And he is a very popular member of the team. Seeing him play his first game back after two years was an absolute highlight.

Leadership:

QFA. Matt Smith - A. 

Matt is as invested in this club as is humanly possible. A high-quality player and even better character, Matty has never wavered and is everything you want in a leader. He’s steady, leads via action and has a genuine care for everyone involved in the club. In only his first year as skipper he’s been outstanding on and off the field. His genuine nature makes him universally respected by all. 

QAFLW. Paris Lightfoot - A.  

Paris Lightfoot tackles her opponent
Paris Lightfoot tackles her opponent. 

She has played under duress all year with some tendonitis that is quite painful but she has trained consistently and has managed the workload well to ensure she can get up to play each week. She leads from the front in everything she does on the field and off. And she is selfless. At the start of the year she asked to go into the midfield to get around the ball more and elevate her own game.  As the season wore on we wanted to swing her back to her customary position across half back to sure up our defence. I spoke to her about it because I knew she didn’t want to do it, but she said “whatever the team needs, I’ll do.”  She has thrown herself into the switch whole heartedly, and that is an example of the type of leader she is.

Coaching comment: 

QFA: 

We’ve created a new game style, and this has taken a little while to embed into the group. We have been up and down in performance levels and also the ability to remain consistent with our game style which has hurt us against quality opposition. Over the past few weeks, we have worked incredibly hard on our style which has shown in our last two games which we won comprehensively. We are building, there is no question about that, and with key personnel making their way back into the team in the coming weeks we are excited about the back end of the season and where we may end up. The coachability and compliance of the group is outstanding as they are a quality group of young men. 

QAFLW: 

Overall, we have ebbed and flowed, we have lacked consistency and I think a lot of that has been around the changing personnel each week, due to representative commitments and injury. Last year we had much more consistency at selection and the result of that was we were really able to embed our game plan. This year we just haven’t been able to execute our plan as consistently. Against lesser talented sides it is holding up, but when we come up against the really good sides, we tend to abandon our structures. The weekend against Southport was a classic example. We won just about all the statistical categories but lost the game. The reason was we didn’t trust the process enough and drifted away from the game plan and lost our shape in defence. The effort was there but the mentality from the players was that they all needed to do more to win the game. That’s not who we are or how we play. If we want to make an impact in the finals, we don’t need individuals trying to be best on ground, we just need everyone doing their job.

Andy Lovell’s grade. C +

We set our standards very high, and we place as much value on the way we win or lose as the result. So, while we are sitting comfortably in the top three across both programs, and we have been happy with some of the football we have produced, our current grade is a C+ with complete confidence we can improve on that in the run to the finals.      

RUGBY

Bull Sharks celebration - UQ
Rugby report card

Surprise packet:  

The first half of the season has thrown up plenty of surprises. Individually we have seen some of our U20 players Harry Bell, Zeb Misios, Charlie McCauley and Ieuan Cornelius step up to play 1st grade. Our U18 Lightening Team won the competition which was a massive effort considering it was our first time competing. However, I think the big surprise so far this season is our 3rd grade team who are sitting second on the ladder and playing some really good rugby. A mix of some new faces and old heads in the team and surprise appearances by some very credentialed players has the team on a roll. 

Mr Consistent:

It is hard to pick just one player here as we have had some really consistent performers across the club. Hamish Roberts who is leading the 1st Grade competition in tries and points scored. Rhian Stowers is putting in massive performances each week. Nikotimo Mateiwai, Joe Murray and Sam Howarth have all been really consistent in our Colts 1 team and Mel Wilks has been very good each week in our Women’s side. I think overall though Tyler Campbell is the standout. He is one of our best each week. He does his job every game and is a constant threat in attack and unwavering in defence. 

Tyler Campbell passes to Rhian Stowers
Tyler Campbell puts Rhian towers into space. 

Miss Personality: 

We are a rugby club so naturally there are plenty of big personalities across our grades. However, the Premier Women get the gong here. If you watch our women’s team warm up with their unique dance routine, you will get an idea of the personality they bring to the club. 

Favourite moment: 

Picking just one favourite moment is tough. Holding on to beat UQ at home is up there, particularly because of our rivalry. Watching players debut for the club in any grade is also very rewarding. I think the moment that stands out the most is watching Petrus Du Plessis and Scharl Du Plessis play their first ever game of rugby together as father and son. Petrus is one of our 1st grade coaches and Scharl is only 18. They both ran on together for 3rd grade against Norths early in the season. Petrus was very adamant in telling Scharl he better push hard in the scrums.

Coaching comment: 

Premier Men: 

I think at the start of the year we had an immature side. A lot of guys were picked to play 1st Grade for the first time, and we had a lot of guys who had just come out of Colts who may have expected to be going into 2nd or 3rd grade. They have steadily come on and we are now getting a much better consistency in our performance than we were  through the early weeks of the season. We have been in a position to win every game which tell us we are on the right track. Those games came down to a lack of maturity in key moments and the experience we gained in those losses will benefit us.  We’ve now won a couple of close games which is evidence of that. 

Premier Women: 

We are really happy with where we are sitting. We have tried quite a few different things this season, mainly in attack, and the team has embraced that and adapted well. The team is in a good head space and work hard for each other. Obviously, the results are going our way too which helps. I think the loss on the weekend might be good because it will sharpen us up a bit and make sure no complacency creeps in. 

Colts 1.

We didn't anticipate so man of our players getting elevated up to 1st grade which has been quite disruptive. We have a good feel for our squad now and understand them as individuals and as players. We have the ability to push for the finals but it will take a collective effort and being focussed on role clarity. 

Elisha Godsiff
Elisha Godsiff always leads from the front.  

Leadership:  

Premier Men. Tyler Campbell – A.  Tyler was quite flattered to be asked to do it, but he is the natural leader among our squad. He is always encouraging the team and is great with our younger players. He sets high standards for himself and his team and doesn’t mind having a sharp word with our players, which is exactly what we need.   

Premier Women. Elisha Godsiff - A. She is a huge part of our team. We have some players who have bigger reputations but none who are more important. And that is because of her leadership. We had a couple of games where she was away with work, and we definitely noticed her absence.  

Colts 1. A. Charlie McCauley is our captain and he has great leadership ability. We've had to change captains four times this season with players being promoted which has given us the opportunity to develop more leaders.  

Luca Liussi’s grade. A +

The people at this club are A+, they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t. We are not getting everything perfect on the field at the moment and we are continuing to work hard on our culture. If you just look at the results you won’t get an accurate mark on where we are as a club. We are developing some new players, have lost three very tight games in 1st Grade, are starting to gain momentum in our Colts results and are having success in our Women’s and 3rd Grade teams. Collectively our effort is A+ and that’s the grade that matters. 

NETBALL  

Netball report card

Surprise Packet: 

Lauren Aubrey is in her first season as contracted player in the Saphire Series and has consistently rated the highest in Gav Points. Lauren has been awarded Legassick Hidden Gem three times this season and has also been named the Mizuno Player of the round.

Miss Consistent: 

Sapphire - Kaylin van Greunen produces a consistently high percentage and volume of shooting and has shown significant strength and growth in her second season in the Sapphire Series. Harriet Nicholson is also consistently ranking high in our Gav Points each week and has shown significant improvement in her new position of Goal Defence.

Miss Personality:

Joesi Gisinger from our Ruby team certainly brings the energy and the noise to our trainings and our games.

Favourite moment:

Derby domination. The double defeat of the Titans in their home game and Sapphire backing it up with another defeat against Titans at our home game. 

Coaching comment: 

Kaylin Van Gruenen
Kaylin Van Greunen has been a standout in 2024.  

Sapphire Series:

We’re sitting comfortably in the top 4 which has us tracking well. We are looking forward to having a full complement of players available for the remaining games where we will hopefully start to hit our peak. 

Ruby Series:

We’ve managed to stay in touch with the leaders to be sitting fifth on the ladder. The first half of the season we have unfortunately been riddled by injury and sickness. We hope to have our full team back in the coming weeks and will endeavour to get on a roll and scrape into the top four. 

 Leadership:  

Hannah Le Sage
Hannah Le Sage in acrtion against the Titans.   

Sapphire. Hannah Le Sage- A. Hannah has had mixed bag with court time opportunities but has consistently demonstrated a team first mentality whether that is on or off the court.

Ruby Leadership Group - A . Abby Boland, Harriet Nicholson & Ocean Karekare all performing well on the court and are all embodying our values.  

Kim Boland’s grade. B 

It is difficult to mark as we haven’t enjoyed consistency at selection. But our Sapphire and Ruby programs are well in finals contention, and we are building great depth with our development squads both in the top four and our future looks bright.  

 

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