Category: News

New look Devils impress in Bishop Park trial

The Devils will head into their pre-season camp this weekend with coach Rohan Smith still settling on the team that will open the Intrust Super Cup season next month.

The competition for places was obvious last Saturday night as the Devils and Redcliffe reached 12-all in the final quarter of their trial match before the lights blew at Bishop Park.

There’s plenty for the Devils to improve on at this stage of the year but their intent to play their own style – and the players’ embracing of that style – has made for pleasant viewing in their opening two trials.

The Devils moved the ball confidently against the Dolphins and scored their three tries in the right corner, including a slick move between centre Luke Pollock and winger Paul Ulberg that looked more like the work of a team late in the season.

The Devils ISC squad will spend two nights on the Sunshine Coast this weekend in a pre-season camp around their final trial match against the Falcons on Saturday.

“It’s been pleasing to watch the competition for selection – plenty of players are staking a claim for Round 1,” Smith said.

“We’ve established some competition for places over the pre-season and this weekend’s match will be another step along that way.”

Saturday night’s trial against Redcliffe was eventful with five of the six tries scored in the opening 34 minutes. Pollock opened the scoring in the fourth minute before crossing again early in the second quarter.

Luke Pollock and Paul Ulberg featured heavily in the Devils three tries.

Ulberg’s try in the 24th minute pushed the Devils out to a 12-0 lead in a match that included 16 penalties by halftime.

Earlier in the night, the BRL trial match went to Norths over Redcliffe 26-14. Redcliffe claimed the Hastings Deering Colts trial 40-28 while the Mal Meninga Cup trial was drawn 20-all.

All four squads will play at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday to wrap up the pre-season matches.

CEOs switch as Devils open Lair

The first home match of the year will be the last as CEO for Terry Reader as the Devils prepare for a changing of the guard this weekend.

Reader, pictured right, will finish his 16-month stint at the Devils after tonight’s trial match against Redcliffe and return to the Broncos, where he will take on a role of Chief Strategy Officer for the NRL powerhouse.

He will be replaced by Troy Rovelli, who has spent the last two weeks learning about life as Bishop Park.

Rovelli knows plenty about the role of CEO – he joined Norths from the Mackay Cutters where his contributions were highly praised during his three-year stint.

Reader leaves the Devils in excellent shape – he came to the club with coach Rohan Smith and the pair orchestrated immediate and productive change resulting in the club championship victory last season.

“It’s been an honour to fill a role at a club with the history of Norths and I’m now a Devil for life – the club has got into my blood and I look forward to staying involved here,” Reader said.

“We’ve been fortunate to have some excellent people here who have helped a lot in what we’ve done over the last 16 months.

“I’m really looking forward to see how we go on the field this year. It’s an exciting time and the club’s in excellent hands with Troy. It’s very pleasing to have such a professional come into the club.”

Brisbane Broncos CEO Paul White said he was pleased at Norths’ progress on and off the field since the club asked Reader to take on the Devils’ role.

“A healthy and vibrant Norths is good for Brisbane rugby league and it’s very important to the Broncos’ success,” White said.

“Our affiliate clubs play a very important role for us so it’s pleasing that someone of the calibre of Troy Rovelli is taking over from Terry. I played against Troy back when we were a bit younger – he was a fierce competitor on the field and he’s become an excellent administrator.”

Rovelli said his first fortnight at the Devils had provided him a good glimpse into the club as the 2019 season looms.

“This is an historic club but it’s also a club that has become innovative in recent times so I’m looking forward to an exciting season,” Rovelli said.

Reader is leaving one noticeable legacy at Bishop Park – the new Devils Lair opens at tonight’s trial match. Situated on halfway on the western side of the ground, the Devils Lair will include some access for supporters who wish to buy tickets.

Devils please in opening trial wins

Norths Devils will move into the second stage of their pre-season trials on Saturday night buoyed by a positive first step into 2019.

The Devils looked sharp last Saturday night as all four grades took on Wynnum in the opening trial matches of the season at Wynnum Juniors’ home ground.

The nature of the Intrust Super Cup squad’s 40-24 win over Wynnum, following on from the BRL team’s 36-0 demolition of the Seagulls, suggested that the Devils were moving well into the new season.

That will be tested again on Saturday when defending premiers Redcliffe Dolphins arrive at Bishop Park for another full slate of trials across all grades – Intrust Super Cup, Brisbane Rugby League, Hastings Deering Colts (Under 20) and Mal Meninga Cup (Under 18).

ISC Coach Rohan Smith was pleased with the Devils’ first hitout as the wins in the open-age matches followed on from an encouraging victory by the Mal Meninga Cup team. The Colts had plenty of positive points despite losing their first outing since their premiership win.

“It was pleasing to see things moving in the right direction in our first trial,” Smith said.

“We saw a lot of genuine competition for positions. A lot of people put their hands up for selection and that’s encouraging as we continue towards the season.”

The development of the Devils’ squad in Smith’s first 12 months as coach was noticeable on Saturday night.

Smith made his debut as Devils coach at the same ground 12 months ago, when a new squad was trying to adapt to the coach’s innovative style of football.

That style has been embraced by the Devils, whose sharp ball movement speared holes in the Wynnum defence last Saturday night.

The Intrust Super Cup squad surged in the second half, piling on five unanswered tries as a 10-20 halftime deficit became a comfortable 40-20 lead late in the match.

The BRL team was never troubled with a 36-0 win in a match in which conversions were not taken.

“The trial at Wynnum Juniors last year was a positive experience with a lot of players having their first game for Norths,” Smith said.

“We’ve got a lot of new players again this year but we’re not starting from scratch.

“This year there is a lot more clarity on what is expected and there has been a lot more ownership from our players. They are really driving our key messages.”

On the nature of Saturday night’s performances, Smith will face a difficult selection for key places when the Intrust Super Cup season begins in four weeks.

But he will receive more insight into his squad when the Dolphins come to Bishop Park this Saturday night.

Game times Saturday 16 February 2019 – all trial games versus Redcliffe – 2.30pm: Mal Meninga Cup. 4pm: Hastings Deering Colts. 5.30pm: BRL. 7pm: Intrust Super Cup.


Popular veteran takes coaching role

Guy Williams hasn’t officially ended his playing days despite taking a new role as Norths Devils Under 18 coach.

The popular Intrust Super Cup veteran will guide the Devils in the Mal Meninga Cup, a few months after completing his 15th season as a player.

When Williams played in the Devils’ season finale against Ipswich last August, he had notched 238 Cup matches and was entrenched among the competition’s most capped players. His career had been eventful – the tough forward began his career for Central Queensland marking Billy Slater on the Devils’ wing.

While Williams was contemplating another season as a player, he was offered the Under 18 coaching role.

“I haven’t really had much time to think about playing because it’s been an enjoyable off-season with these young players,” Williams said.

“My reason for becoming a coach isn’t that I’ve necessarily come to the end of the road as a player – I enjoy coaching and I’m learning a lot from the wider coaching staff here at Norths.”

Williams has an affinity with the young Devils through his role as a teacher at Norths nursery Wavell State High School.

Some of Williams’ squad attends the school, which has produced Devils of the calibre of Greg Inglis.

Williams takes over from Troy Bishop, who guided the Devils within touching distance of the Mal Meninga Cup premiership last season.

The Devils went through the regular season undefeated but fell to Souths Logan 16-18 in a gripping grand final at Bishop Park.

The Devils almost snatched a stunning victory after the siren when emerging prop Ethan Bullemor stripped the ball from NRL-bound David Fifita, sparking a raid that fell centimetres short of a try.

Williams’ appointment is one of several coaching adjustments for the Devils as they enter the 2019 season.

Rohan Smith’s coaching staff at Cup level includes assistants Rhett Tronc and Craig Kennedy.

Kennedy will also coach the Valleys BRL team, which will be the feeder pathway for the Devils’ Cup team.

Kevin Neighbour returns as Colts coach after steering the Devils to a stirring premiership last September. Neighbour will be assisted by Peri Creamer and Clint Hoffman.

The Devils completed an all-grades training session today ahead of their first trial match against Wynnum Manly at Wynnum Juniors next Saturday night.