The Burleigh Bears will be looking for their young brigade to step up and fill the void this year with a number of club legends hanging up the boots at the end of the 2021 season.
While acknowledging the loss of experience in the squad, Bears Hostplus Cup coach Rick Stone is excited to see what the young players and the new faces will produce this season.
“It’s probably been the biggest turnover since 2016... we have probably lost up to eight or nine senior players in our Cup team, (but) we have brought in similar or the same,” Stone shared via the Burleigh Bears Instagram page.
“A couple of senior forwards we have lost, Luke Page is the main one, our captain.
“Obviously, he’s a big loss, he was an inspirational leader for our club and had been at the club for a number of years, and is great on and off the field, we will miss him.
“A lot of outside backs and a lot of middle forwards that we have lost.”
End of an era as Page closes chapter in Cup
Of the new faces to join for 2022, a number of them are no strangers to the club, having featured previously in a Bears jersey.
“We have added a couple (including) Kai O’Donnell, young player from Proserpine originally and has spent a bit of time at the Titans and the Bears before going to the Raiders, and he is back with the club,” Stone said.
“He is a real hard-working player, work ethic is outstanding, great trainer and really a player I think that everyone wants to play with.
“Kea Pere is a player who did plenty of time at the Bears. He is probably a centre, backrower.
“He played at Easts last year, it was his first year out of the Titans and was looking to come back to Burleigh.
“He’s returned in really good shape, really happy with Kea, he’s matured a little bit, really enjoying his footy, fitted in back with the boys really well, he’s a good leader, he’s really impressed me since he’s been back and he’s really going to push for a starting position probably, with Sami Sauiluma in the centres.”
Other players set to feature in Burleigh’s Cup side this season are some young stars on the rise who have been training with the Gold Coast Titans and have featured in previous seasons in the Hastings Deering Colts competition.
“On top of that, we have some boys who are probably outside the top 30 at the Titans,” Stone said.
“Isaac Booth is a young Kiwi who played under 18s with Burleigh… he is a really skilful athletic young man, takes plenty of pulling down,” Stone said.
“Watching his physical progression and seeing how many games we can get out of him.”
Alofi Khan-Pereira has also played A Grade with the Bears and was touted as “a young electric winger” and “a real excitement machine”, while Stone rated Iszac Fa'asuamaleaui – who is the younger brother of Titans captain Tino – as “another athletic backrower”.
“I think those two boys are ready to progress and ready to take the opportunity to play some Cup this year,” Stone said.
Burleigh Bears 2022 gains and losses
Gains: Kai O’Donnell (Canberra Raiders), Matiu Stone-Dunn (Mackay Cutters), Isaiah Latu (Queanbeyan), Brock Ilett (Newtown Jets), Kea Pere (Brisbane Tigers), Dante Lusio (Collegians Wollongong), Joe Duffy (Orange), Josiah Afu (Mt Albert Auckland), Jacob Alick (Souths Logan), Penisimani Tauapa (Bulldogs)
Losses: Luke Page (retired), Jack Stockwell (retired), Jacob Hind (retired), Josh Berkers (retired), Andre Niko (Mackay), Curtis Dansey-Smaller (Central Queensland Capras), Cory Denniss (Newcastle), John Palavi (retired), Shallin Fuller (Titans)
Other Hostplus Cup club gains and losses
*Submissions made by clubs and correct at time of publication.