The In Safe Hands Cup is set for a shakeup in 2019, with four new coaches joining the ranks this season.
After three years of stability in the coaching ranks, only three coaches remain from last season (Ron Troutman – Seagulls, Danial Green – Dolphins and Wayne Weekes – Panthers).
At the Tigers, Jason Di Lizio returns as head coach after missing the 2017 season and working as David Krause’s assistant last year.
“I stepped away due to work commitments in 2017 and that changed last year, and I was asked back to help Krausey out,” Di Lizio said.
“It’s a tougher competition. Each game is tougher, if you’re off by 5 per cent you can get beaten by 20 points. We need to try and find consistency week-to-week and make sure our worst isn’t far off our best.”
The Diehards now have Craig Kennedy stepping into the shoes of premiership winning coach Don Gailer and Souths Logan’s Steve Bretherton has moved up to assistant coach at the Intrust Super Cup level with former Seagulls reserve grade coach Darren Fredricks taking the reins.
Though the Panthers still have Weekes as head coach, he has been joined by former Intrust Super Cup coach Craig Ingebrigtsen.
‘Trigger’ has had plenty of success in recent years, having coached the Easts Tigers and Sunshine Coast Falcons to Intrust Super Cup grand finals.
“It’s really surprising and really good for me to go back to this level,” Ingebrigtsen said.
“Training has been fantastic, and players are all striving to be better players, so I am really excited.
“I watched the competition closely at cup level as that’s where you get your recruitment from.
"It’s pretty physical and teams like to win, and I think the level will go up again this year.”
The In Safe Hands Cup season was officially launched at a ceremony at Davies Park over the weekend.
Defending champions, the Seagulls, will again take on the Dolphins, Panthers, Tigers, Diehards and Magpies in the 2019 competition, with all clubs in attendance for the season launch.
In Safe Hands are on board for another year as the major sponsor, an association CEO Michael Pecic said he was excited to continue the relationship.
“We like the association we have with the Brisbane Rugby League and what it stands for,” he said.
“We are really looking forward to building that partnership as the years go on.
"We have expanded into the junior clubs with our ‘Good Choices Program’ helping out the coaches and the clubs to put in structures on how they support their volunteers at the club.
“In Safe Hands provide child protection and safety training for professionals working with children. Teachers, child care workers and relief staff; so we train about 100,000 people every year and growing.”
Regional General Manager of the Queensland Rugby League Glenn Ottaway said was an enthusiastic supporter of the competition.
“It’s critically important that clubs have players who were graduating out of the Under 20s when they are not playing in the Intrust Super Cup that they are playing in A Grade," he said.
"It’s important for us to have a strong, balanced and a really competitive A Grade competition to be able to keep those players at a level to give a performance to go out at any given week to play in the Intrust Super Cup.”
South East Queensland Rugby League Chairman Brad Tallon rated the In Safe Hands Cup as the best third tier competition in the country, with the Queensland Rangers putting the NSW Diggers ‘Ron Massey Competition’ combined side to the sword last year.
“The standard last year was outstanding again, with the finalists not decided until the second last round and I won’t be surprised if it happens again,” Tallon said.
“The competition has had four different winners since the relaunch of the Brisbane A Grade Competition in 2015.”
Round 1 kicks off this Saturday with the Diehards hosting the Panthers, Redcliffe at home to the Tigers and the Seagulls away to Souths Logan.
Round 1 fixtures
Magpies v Seagulls - Saturday March 16 at Noffke Farm Park, 1.30pm
Diehards v Panthers - Saturday March 16 at Emerson Park, 3pm
Dolphins v Tigers - Saturday March 16 at Dolphin Oval, 4.15pm