When the Moranbah Miners run out onto Darryl Bourke Oval tonight, there will be plenty of rugby league fans eager to see how their star-studded team start their season.
Playing against Sarina Crocodiles in their Round 1 game of Mackay’s Components Only competition, the Miners squad this year will feature the likes of Will Matthews and players with Intrust Super Cup experience including Sam Smith, Bill Cullen and Liam McDonald.
Cooper Bambling, who was recently captaining the Mackay Cutters in the Cup, is also a key player at the club.
In all, there is an enviable amount of experience to draw from within the team which this year is being coached by seasoned mentor Paul Bramley, who was lured into the role by his friend Cameron White who is one of the senior players and influential people at the club on his return from living in France.
While Bramley recognised that there was an undeniable level of talent recruited into the side, his said his key focus for the season ahead was on helping the local players from the area to develop.
“That’s always been a focus of mine as a coach is to get some quality people around some good kids and try and help them find their identity in senior footy," Bramley said.
"We’ve got some really good local boys up here and we’ve got a really, really young reserve grade side this year.
"So for me, it’s really good for the future of the club. It’s all good to get these quality senior players which we have to do out here, but in time, our focus is to develop our good young kids and if they don’t go into the city clubs, we’ve got some good kids out here. So that’s how we’ve been sort of handling this year."
While it has been a great experience so far, he has been focused on creating culture and the side will also have to overcome some challenges in order to be successful.
Given the differing work schedules, the group has struggled to get a full team run under their belts before the start of the season.
“The pre-season out here is something I’ve really had to learn," Bramley said.
"It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been a coach… this is my 21st senior year of coaching, so I’m still learning and still learning how to work in a club and a town like this has been really tough because of shift-work and not getting the same group.
"We’ve never had the run-on side at training together once this pre-season. That’s been a real challenge and trying to get what we want and our style of play, trying to get that done over a pre-season when you’ve only got some guys one night, and others on another night.
"We’ve got four different rosters, so that’s the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with ... just trying to get the same message across four different crews.
"It’s been a good, refreshing challenge and we find ourselves nearly ready to go.
"It’s been the longest 18-month pre-season effectively since COVID kicked in so we can’t wait to get out there."
However, all the players have bought into the culture of the club and Bramley was confidence everyone was on the same page moving forward which would help the side live up to expectations.
"We’ve all got a common goal and touch wood, it’s worked perfectly in creating a good culture," Bramley said.
"We’ve just been bringing some old boys back to the club as well when they had success under Craig Menkins and different eras.
"We’re really pushing hard to bring that back.
"I know culture is a fad word, but we’re really trying to bring the reason they had success out here back."
Components Only A Grade Cup
Round 1 fixtures
|6pm Saturday, April 10||Carltons Devils v Wests Tigers Mackay||Mackay JRL Grounds|
|7.30pm Saturday, April 10||Moranbah Miners v Sarina Crocs||Darryl Bourke Oval, Moranbah|
|3pm Sunday, April 11||Whitsunday Brahmans v Mackay Brothers||Les Stagg Oval, Proserpine|
|3pm Sunday, April 11||Mackay Magpies v Souths Sharks||Sologinkin Oval, Mackay|