Despite falling to a disappointing loss to the Redcliffe Dolphins last Sunday, the Wynnum Manly Seagulls will be hoping to turn around a recent dip in form when they take on Tweed Heads this Saturday at Stradbroke Island in their Hastings Deering Colts match.
Their clash against their rival Seagulls shapes as a crucial clash, considering the closeness of the competition this year.
With sides like the Townsville Blackhawks flying high above the rest with 31 points after 16 rounds, the pressure is on for other sides to step up and challenge for the title this year.
Although they went unbeaten in their opening five games, Wynnum Manly have endured some inconsistent form of late; leaving them perched in fifth place on the ladder.
Experienced coach Joe O’Callaghan acknowledged the dip in results, but was optimistic his side had enough strike power across the park to return to their winning ways.
“The last couple of months have been pretty inconsistent which is a real shame … but by the sounds of the reports that came back (from the Redcliffe game), it was a pretty close contest for the last period and there are certainly some positives to come out of it.”
The squad received a boost prior to their upcoming game, with points-scoring machine Shannon Gardiner named to return from suspension this week.
A former Sydney Roosters junior, Gardiner moved to Brisbane looking for opportunity and has performed well, and sits third on the top points scoring ladder.
While O’Callaghan is grateful to have Gardiner back on board, he expressed the need for other players to play their part if they wish to remain in the top six.
“Other guys really need to step up and be accountable … while we’ve been in the six all year, it is getting to the business end now … and we have to start stringing some wins together.”
The statewide competition has taken games to areas outside of the usual home club bases this year – including to Stradbroke Island this weekend – and O’Callaghan encouraged the move to wider communities, believing the diverse playing locations in fact furthered the development of the young players.
“It is always exciting, I am a big fan of playing at these country fields considering it keeps the kids humble and realise what level of footy they are still playing at.”
Other games heading to fresh locations this weekend will see the CQ Capras host the Magpies at Barcaldine Showgrounds; while the Northern Pride will take on Victoria Thunderbolts at Yarrabah.