(For the full team lists, see below)
“BOYS, we start work now.” That was the message FOGS Colts coach Robert Campbell sent out to his players when they hit the top of the competition ladder a few weeks ago.
In 2013, the Colts managed just two wins from their first 11 games before making a charge in the second half of the season.
They ended up missing the finals by a single win; but the shift in attitude and discipline that saw them emerge as a force has carried over into 2014.
Heading into this weekend’s 14th round they stand alone at the top of the ladder. Getting to the top of the ladder was one of the goals, but going on with the job and delivering Burleigh’s first ever Colts premiership is what they are really working towards.
“As we’ve been going this year we’ve been ticking off these boxes that hadn’t done yet,” Campbell said.
“We hadn’t beaten Wynnum, we hadn’t beaten Easts, we hadn’t won two games in a row away from home; we’re ticking off these little boxes and if the ultimate box is ticking off a premiership for this club that would be amazing.”
While a number of players from last year’s team have moved up in senior football, the core of the team remains.
Those players from last year have grown into leaders for the younger guys coming through and immediately set the expected standard on and off the field.
“The boys have embraced what we’ve wanted to do from day one this year. Everyone loves each other in the Colts,” Campbell said.
“It doesn’t happen overnight, you really need to put some building blocks into place. What we’ve got here, it’s not only for this year, I think we’re rebuilding the club from the ground up.
“I think this Colts team can be a first grade premiership team in the next five years. I think they really enjoy the place that much.”
Last season Colts halfback and captain Connor Toia took out the player of the year award at the QRL’s Annual Gala Dinner.
This year’s team has plenty of stand outs as well. Campbell said that Carne Rhodes “has been a revelation since he has gone to hooker,” and that Josh Berkers and Tyler Sparks have been incredible in the forwards.
However it is his captain, lock Marino Allen, that he has been most impressed with this season.
“The heart and soul of this team is Marino Allen. He would just run through a wall for this team,” he said.
“He’s not the biggest bloke but he is relentless. The easiest decision I made this year was to make Marino captain with Connor moving up. I love him, he’s awesome.”
Last Sunday afternoon the Bears managed to continue winning – this time with a close 18-16 win over the Redcliffe Dolphins.
Redcliffe were the frontrunners earlier in the year, but have now dropped their past four games, but will take heart from the strong showing against the ladder leaders.
This weekend, the Bears will host Norths, while Redcliffe will be at home against Toowoomba in a game that will lead off a full round of FOGS Colts Challenge action.