The new year has brought new faces to the Norths Devils coaching staff and one old problem – training around COVID lockdowns.
The Devils joined other greater Brisbane Intrust Super Cup clubs last week juggling training around the strict regimes of the three-day lockdown and its ongoing restrictions.
It was a taste of the wretched 2020 when the club’s 89th season lasted just one match – a win over the Cutters in Mackay – before the competition was cancelled.
The Devils have introduced protocols across the club to ensure training can carry on while the restrictions continue.
Coach Rohan Smith has returned for his fourth season at the Devils joined by some familiar faces from his time at Bishop Park along with new appointments.
Devils favourite Guy Williams, who finished his long ISC playing career at Norths in 2018, has left the coaching staff to take up the role as head coach at CQ Capras.
“We’ll miss Guy for many reasons but we’re rapt for him for his new role,” Smith said.
“Regardless of what happens in any season, it’s always good to have a mix of consistent staff and some new people in the club.
“That helps us to have some familiarity but also some different perspective for a new season.”
Smith will again be joined by 2018 Colts premiership coach Kevin Neighbour as his Intrust Super Cup assistant. Neighbour will also coach the Devils’ Under 18 team.
Ben King joins Norths as an ISC assistant coach, coming to the club from stints with Easts Tigers and Sunshine Coast Falcons.
“Ben’s a great addition to the club and it’s the first time we’ll have a chance to work together after spending a lot of time talking about footy over the last three or four years,” Smith said.
Rhett Tronc will again coach the Hastings Deering Colts team alongside assistants Rob Tanielu and Shayne Boyd.
Tanielu, the former Broncos, Storm and Cowboys prop who also played for the Devils, will coach Norths’ Under 16 team.
Brandon Wellington, now in his third pre-season with the Devils, takes on the role as ISC strength and conditioning coach.
Rhett Cope, another familiar face at the Devils, is responsible for strength and conditioning in the Colts squad.
Smith said the Devils had focused on coaching development, along with traditional player pathways, highlighted by a three-day coaching intensive last September that attracted participants from across the state. Most of the Devils’ coaches joined the intensive.
“We’ve had really strong input from across our coaching staff already this pre-season which has been positive for the club,” Smith said.
“The focus should not only be on player pathways but also helping to develop coaches.”