Wellington Redbacks coach Greg Brien has hailed players past and present after the post-season award’s were handed out to the team.
Particular praise was reserved for the team’s younger players, who helped catapult the Redbacks to a second place finish in the Grand Final.
“Certainly some of our younger players stood up this year, Brad McCaroll is a first year and he’s a young fella’ with a bit of vision about him. He could make a very good full-back, he plays what’s in front of him and he’s got a good football brain,” Coach Brien said.
McCaroll was particularly instrumental in helping see the Redbacks through their preliminary final match against Molong, securing them a spot against the Geurie Goats in the Graincorp Cup Grand Final.
Darcy Tierney, another of the team’s younger players, was also the focus of Coach Brien’s praise for his defensive acumen.
“Tierney at halfback, he’s a very small player he’s only about 60 kilos, but he’s a brilliant player and a brilliant defensive player and blokes can’t run over the top of him.”
But the commendations and acknowledgements weren’t just reserved for the club’s youngest and newest stars, Jake Newman is going into his fifth year with the Redbacks and he was honored with the ‘most improved’ award for his efforts through the recent season.
“Jake Newman got most improved this year, he’s been here four years and he decided to lead by example. He really took it upon himself to be more aggressive and put himself in the game more. He got the award off the back of that; off putting his hand up and saying, “I need to do more.”
The Redbacks also had an opportunity to farewell some of their longer-serving, valued players who will be missing from the field next year.
“Simon Baxter, he’s been a real workhorse for the Redbacks, he’s trying to get into the army now, so he’ll be sorely missed, but he’s someone we could always count on. A good old player.”
Even falling short to the Geurie Goats, the entire team has been bolstered by making it all the way to the Grand Final, and is confident that a repeat performance is possible next year.
“We were over the moon, we were very, very happy, we’d penciled in a third or fourth position and we finished third and took out the second place team in the premier final and were really excited to make it to the Grand final.”
The team is even planning to refresh and bolster it’s roster with a few re-additions from seasons past.
“There’s been a few older players who want to come back and they’re more than welcome. They add that bit of knowledge.”
But above all else, Coach Brien was excited to have captured something of a new attitude and atmosphere throughout the team throughout the season.
“You can’t just throw 23 blokes into the paddock and say do your best. I think that’s what we’ve got back, we’ve got that rugby culture where you play hard and the results will come.”