Week 1 of the new Pre-Season tournament is in the books and although the points system in typical PVL fashion is more convoluted than a game of 3D chess it was great to have a fiesta of footy back on our TV screens to whet the lips for the upcoming season.
Trial form is always a cautionary tale and with every team taking different approaches to their squads for the first week the obvious disclaimer needs to go out to Bulldogs and Warriors fans to wait a few weeks before they jump in the queue for Grand Final tickets. That isn’t to say that there weren’t some big winners and losers from week one, so here are the BTFU take aways and stand out performers from the first games.
The Bulldogs are the buzz team of the pre-season with a host of big name pre-season signings and the key signing of highly rated coach Cameron Ciraldo and they couldn’t have looked any more impressive in their opening 30 minute hit out with Reed Mahoney looking every bit the spark they need to elevate this team and take some pressure off the young halves. Jacob Preston and Franklin Pele were both super impressive and will look to put pressure on for bench spots in the early rounds. Pele could be absolutely anything in this league his size and power coupled with deft touch and footwork under the tutelage of the man who nurtured and developed the current Panthers squad to what they are today is a scary prospect for the rest of the league. Absolutely can’t wait to see this side with Burton, Kikau, and Pangai sprinkled in.
Nicho Hynes is a superstar, his aerobic fitness is at the absolute top end of the league and he plays genuine eyes up footy. Anyone looking for teams to figure him out and him to regress to a one hit wonder is going to be sorely mistaken. His ability to play into the line as a first receiver and stay involved backing up like the best fullbacks in the game means he is always at the forefront of his teams success.
The Warriors depth and system looks to have been overhauled under the new leadership at the club. Thomas Ale and Luke Metcalf are right at the top of a long list of fringe first graders who showed a refreshing thirst for success and defensive discipline that has been sorely missing in recent years from the kiwi based club. The jury is still out on this one with a long history of inconsistency and consistent breakdowns of defensive system, but the early signs were certainly there for a upturn.
If Brisbane are going to leap back into finals calculation this year they need Reece Walsh to become one of the games elite players, something he is certainly capable of! With a 40/20, try and try assist in the opening 50 minutes of Sunday’s trial he looked a class above most of the players on display. Unfortunately he also suffered a cracked eye socket, hopefully we will see him back in this side for Rd 1 as his blistering pre season showing coupled with Brisbane’s friendly opening 10 weeks, could see them put some early pressure on the competitions heavyweights.
The Sharks, Panthers, and Cowboys really rammed home that clubs that are well coached with good defensive systems go deeper than the 17 guys that take the field every week. Their 2nd and 3rd string players seemed to fit seamlessly into systems that look built to succeed particularly defensively. This should hold these clubs in good stead should injury strike throughout the year with a plethora of talent towards the back end of their rosters. Once again it was great to have footy back and Im looking forward to seeing a few more familiar faces this weekend when most sides will send out their top 17 available for the final week of trial footy.