A season of social basketball and boxing training have helped to galvanise a Norths Devils squad that is making its way towards the 2021 Intrust Super Cup season.
The Devils were part of one of the few high-level competitions in the country not to have a season in 2021 after COVID-19 caused the end of the Intrust Super Cup after one round.
This Devils group didn’t go into hibernation. The friendships that were forged when most of the group met each other at the end of 2017 flourished in other sports.
Devils captain Jack Ahearn joined some teammates in The Fundamentals – a social basketball team that did its best every Monday night.
Some of those players and other Devils also joined in boxing and wrestling training to try new things while their training grounds were silent for most of 2020.
Ahearn said the activities had helped to create stronger ties in a group that barely knew each other three years ago when new Devils coach Rohan Smith unveiled a new squad to Norths supporters.
Ahearn was among that new group in 2017 along with the likes of Michael Sio, Calum Gahan, Carne Doyle-Manga and Moses Noovao-McGreal before Brendan Frei, Connor Broadhurst and others joined the group.
Ahearn said the squad’s ties had been strengthened during 2020.
“There are a few of us going into our fourth pre-season now with Norths and we really didn’t know much about each other when we first came here,” Ahearn said.
“Ro has built something really special here with the club and our culture. It’s a really good atmosphere and the group enjoys each other’s success.
“It was disappointing to have only one round this season before we stopped but that gave us the chance to do a few other things together. We had a genuine break from footy but we’ve come back together now and I don’t think we’ve ever been hungrier as a group to do well.”
The Devils will have a short break from pre-season training over Christmas before gathering again to continue their build up to March’s season-opener against Brisbane Tigers.
This year’s season ended after one match – Ahearn slotted a late field goal to help the Devils to a win over the Cutters in Mackay.
He said the closeness of the team helped in tight situations on the field.
“We do know each other a lot better now than when we first got together so that’s a big plus for us in situations like that,” Ahearn said.
“We just enjoy each other’s company and we’re really looking forward to playing together again.”