The Wynnum Manly Seagulls will face off against the Sunshine Coast Falcons tomorrow for the Hastings Deering Colts title – but who are some of the key players in both teams and what are their stories?
Ahead of this Sunday’s grand final at Redcliffe’s Dolphin Stadium, Sunshine Coast Falcons and Wynnum Manly Seagulls captains Jack Wright and Brock Richardson (pictured above) fronted the media to share their stories of the past season.
Both teams feature plenty of talent and players to watch both in the final and into the future.
Wynnum Manly Seagulls
Hooker Jake Simpkin moved down from Toowoomba to Brisbane in order to follow his dream of playing rugby league. This decision has paid dividends and has propelled him into a full NRL contract with Wests Tigers in 2020. He will be joined at the NRL club by team-mate Reece Hoffman.
Five-eighth Will Parslow joined the Hastings Deering Colts side after a breakout Auswide Bank Mal Meninga Cup season, which saw him promoted to the young Broncos academy for 2020.
Centre Reece Hoffman played his junior football in Wynnum, and for his tireless efforts this season, in Round 22, made an Intrust Super Cup debut in Round 22 and scored a try. Alongside his friend Simpkin, he has signed a contract with the Wests Tigers for 2020.
Winger Ryan O’Keefe joined the Colts side in 2017 when the team finished in the wooden spoon position. He has plenty of offers to leave to pursue opportunities at other clubs; but he remained to go on to become one of the standout performers for the following two seasons.
Fullback Shannon Gardiner joined the side from Sydney two seasons ago due to lack of opportunities. He was soon rewarded for his performances in 2018 by claiming the Hastings Deering Colts player of the season award last season.
It is also set to be coach Joe O’Callaghan’s final game in charge of the young side after a three-year stint. He joined Wynnum Manly in 2017 as assistant coach for the Intrust Super Cup side, before taking over the Hastings Deering Colts side for the next three seasons.
Sunshine Coast Falcons
The Falcons are a team forged on the coast, the majority of the side coming together as Sunshine Coast local boys who grew up moulded by the surf and sand including Blake Wilson, a Noosa junior and Zac Green from Maroochydore.
Their success so far this season has been thanks in part to the efforts of assistant coach Dan Murphy who has a pedigree of success in rugby league. He helped lead the Mackay Cutters to an Intrust Super Cup final victory with future northern stars Jason Taumalolo and Michael Morgan in their title win over the Easts Tigers.
Centre Kane Jackson has had a standout 2019 Hastings Deering Colts season and has been achieving in the game of rugby league from his own solid efforts. However, he knows he’s got someone pretty experienced to turn to if he ever needs any advice as he is also the nephew of former Australian and Queensland Maroons centre Brent Tate.
The young Sunshine Coast side is also full of future medical professionals, with lock forward Mateus Chankay (pictured) studying paramedicine and young back rowers Aaron Nelson and Gian Largiader working towards becoming doctors outside of rugby league.
Green (who was taught at school by Colts head coach Sam Mawhinney) is also said to have a keen interest in biology. At training, the pair are known for doing tackle techniques one minute and then chatting about genes, chromosomes and punnet squares.
Match: WM Seagulls v Falcons
Grand Final -
Venue: Dolphin Stadium, Brisbane
Both teams into the 2019 Hastings Deering Colts grand final on the back of terrific performances on the field, fuelled by young sides with great stories and great drive to be the best.