Juggling act for Cup coaches
'Team List Tuesday' has become such a part of the rugby league vernacular that it has spawned its own hashtag on social media, but it carries broader implications for the Intrust Super Cup coaches who must juggle their line-ups on a weekly basis.
With the exception of the Central Queensland Capras and PNG Hunters, the remaining Intrust Super Cup clubs are all strengthened by the inclusion of NRL-aligned players who haven't made the top grade that particular week.
Mackay, Northern Pride and Townsville source players from the North Queensland Cowboys, the Melbourne Storm supply fringe first-graders to the Easts Tigers and Sunshine Coast, Burleigh and Tweed share Titans-contracted players and the Broncos have players turning out for Ipswich, Norths, Wynnum, Redcliffe and Souths Logan on a weekly basis.
This week when Norths host Easts, their team will include Broncos-contracted players such as Todd Murphy, Francis Molo, Jai Arrow and Jayden Berrell with the inclusion of halfback Murphy the most significant with regards to the structure of the team.
Most weeks Norths coach Mark Gliddon has access to part-time Broncos Murphy and Berrell for two training sessions per week and is in constant communication with the Brisbane coaching staff as to who he will have access to and for how many sessions prior to game-day.
“If they come to us on a Thursday we get to do video and skills with them, but they don't do any weights or fitness drills with us," explained Gliddon, who can often be seen at Broncos training early in the week keeping an eye on his allocated players.
“I'm very mindful of not having them running too much.
“For the guys who we only get for the one session at the end of the week, we'll have players training in their place as cover and I'm very upfront with them in terms of who will be playing on the weekend. Then it feeds down to our lower grades who have to hold players as well.
“Our lower grade (Brisbane Rugby League) teams, Wests and Valleys, are located at different grounds which makes things a little bit harder, but that just means communication between everyone has to be spot on at all times.
“It's not ideal but in all honesty, it's a help. If I get five quality players back on most weeks, gee it makes a difference, especially three of them being full-time footballers.
“I'm more than happy to get those guys back every week for the little disruption that it causes.”
When Wynnum travel to Redcliffe on Saturday night there will be six Broncos players on show with the Seagulls featuring edge back-rowers in Alex Barr, Adam Tuimavave-Gerrard and Salesi Funaki.
For Wynnum coach Jon Buchanan, slotting in those edge players with limited preparation is key to delivering a consistent performance on the weekend.
“It's a necessary evil. The competition is so tough now and you've only got to look at the teams that have got really good links to their affiliate clubs, they're all going well," Buchanan said.
“This year it has impacted on us a little bit more because we have got two edge back-rowers which makes it really hard.
“If they're a middle forward or an outside back you can get by during the week, but because this week we won't see them until Friday night you're doing stuff at training with guys who aren't going to be there on game day.”
The most important factor to all NRL players who come back to play in the Intrust Super Cup on any given weekend is attitude.
Souths Logan legend Phil Dennis said earlier this year that Josh McCrone was the best that he had seen in that regard and Gliddon and Buchanan said they have both been fortunate in terms of the quality of young men that they have been allocated.
“Attitude is very important, it's the key to be honest,” Buchanan said.
“In my four years as head coach at the club, all the players we've had come back have been quality men so we haven't had any issue with any of the players that have been sent back to us at all.”
A former editor of Big League, Tony Webeck is the Chief Queensland Correspondent for NRL.com.