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Ingebrigtsens dare to dream 100 years later

Father and son coaching duo Craig and Tye Ingebrigtsen believe they are ready to lead the West Brisbane Panthers to victory in this Sunday's BRL grand final blockbuster.

With a packed house expected at BMD Kougari Oval in what poses to be a mouth-watering showdown between West Brisbane and Wynnum Manly Juniors, the Ingebrigtsens have no desire to let this game slip through their fingers, having set the benchmark in the competition all season.

If you are a statistics person, the record books show a remarkable achievement that has not been seen in 100 years.

The Ingebrigtsens' stellar season has been nothing short of incredible, having gone through undefeated. The last time the club achieved this was 1922.

Interestingly, Valleys Diehards were also the last BRL club to go through the season undefeated way back in 1955.

Craig needs no introduction to rugby league in Brisbane and has been one of the most innovative coaches over the past 30 years in Queensland, having clocked up more than 150 Cup games with the Easts Tigers - now Brisbane Tigers - and Sunshine Coast Falcons, respectively.

And now it is his offsider son Tye who is making huge inroads as one of the smartest young coaches to have climbed the coaching ranks, in what has been a successful career thus far.

Craig and Tye Ingebrigtsen.
Craig and Tye Ingebrigtsen.

Tye is part of a new breed of coaches who have a diligence and laser-focused approach to everything they do, and he enthuses how much he has loved every minute this season co-coaching alongside his father.

“It has been a privilege to be a part of such a great young crop of players at the Panthers this year," Tye said.

"The work ethic the boys put in at training and on the field, is nothing short of mind-blowing.

"Both dad and I push the players to their limits and it is paying off in dividends.

"With only one more game to go on Sunday, hopefully we can cap off what has been a successful year for the club and be crowned premiers.”

Tye ensures the success though this season would not have come together without his father Craig, affectionately known as “Trigger".

“Trigger is not only a great coach, but he is a people person," Tye said.

"He genuinely cares about the boys on and off the field and is like a father figure to the squad.

"I can safely say that I have learned so much working beside dad this season, one that will make me into a better coach next year.”

While son Tye sings his father’s praises leading into Sunday's epic blockbuster, Craig is equally in awe of his son, believing he has blossomed as a coach.

“I am so proud of this kid of mine," Craig said.

"He listens, wants to learn, and is hungry to further his coaching career.

"I have seen coaches come and go in my time and you can see the ones with the hunger in their eyes... Tye is one of those blokes.”

Having been in the Melbourne Storm system previously, Craig is ready to pass the mantle to his son to fly solo next season, having taken up a coaching position with an unidentified club in North Queensland.

“I will be coaching up north next season so it will be interesting to see if Tye has taken my experience as a coach on board to guide him into the future," Craig said.

“He is Cup ready and would be an asset to any club given his proven coaching record and his ability to attract quality players at all the clubs he has been involved with.

"I suppose you can say that the coaching bug is in the Ingebrigtsen DNA.”

With a plethora of former Cup stars in the Panthers squad, including former Falcons players Jye Ballinger and powerful centre Eddie Tautali, West Brisbane have no shortage of experience come Sunday afternoon.

Both father and son ensure that they have the arsenal in the kitbag to complete the job against Wynnum, something the duo have been chipping away at all season, according to Tye.

“We wanted to assemble a crack squad before the season started with loads of experience, all while adding blokes who have proven themselves in the local Brisbane competition," Tye said.

"When we drew up that hitlist of players, we knew would be competitive, but never thought we would go through undefeated given the talent pool right across the competition.

"That all comes down to our players buying into the club.”

Psychologically, the Panthers have the wood over the Seagulls coming into Sunday’s decider having beaten the Baysiders 42-16 in Round 2 and again cruising to a 42-20 victory in Round 11 of the regular season.

With Craig bowing out this Sunday in local Brisbane rugby league, he hopes the decider will go down as one of the great grand finals, not just for him, but also for his opposition coach.

“I have a ton of respect for Wynnum coach Jason Harris," Craig said.

"He is a smart operator and cannot be taken lightly leading into the grand final.

"He is a coach to watch for the future given Wynnum’s success this season and I wish him and the Seagulls all the best for Sunday.

"However, our boys have one last job to do and that is bring the trophy back to the Panthers clubhouse, something that we set out to achieve back in our pre-season.”

Craig is confident he can get the job done on Sunday and understands his team are on the cusp of rewriting the history books.

“Imagine mirroring our predecessors’ efforts from 1922," Craig said.

"You would have to think as a Panthers supporter or anybody interested in the history of the BRL, that is worth the admission price alone.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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