20 June, 2022
U18s aim for top
WITH three consecutive victories the Mareeba Gladiators U18s have firmly announced their intentions as they aim for a semi-final appearance and top three finish this season.
The relatively young side is comprised of three players who are turning 18 while the rest are still 17 and will have another season in the side before moving onto Reserves and A Grade.
Coupled with a strong U16s side currently sitting at the top of the ladder, next season’s U18s will be a force to be reckoned with.
The current side sits smack dab in the middle of the pack at fifth after three consecutive wins with around eight games left in the season.
The Atherton Roosters lead the U18s table with a convincing lead of 20 points on an undefeated run, Kangaroos and Ivanhoes follow closely behind on 18 with Cairns Brothers and the Gladiators slotting behind on 12.
Coach Bryce Morgan has plans for the side to finish in the top three this season however he makes sure the players don’t get big heads and don’t “get ahead of themselves” “We are taking it one step at a time, one game at a time – we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves too much, being young fellas, they can do that,” he said.
“My end goal is to make semi-finals but I would like to finish in a top three position, that is where you want to be and go from there.
“We can definitely make it with the side we have if we keep rolling the way we are.”
Morgan attributes the side’s recent success to a change in mindset and attitude as the players have started playing for each other.
“Working hard and getting to training and playing for each other, that has probably been the biggest thing,” he said.
“At the beginning of the season we didn’t have a half, we didn’t have a five eighth really, we were sort of all over the place because a few of our boys made the Northern Pride side.
“We actually played a game this year with 12 kids, we did lose it but we only had 12 on the field.”
Over the season some of the side’s strongest players have been called up to fill holes in an injury riddled A Grade side, the latest being Cain Hastie who made his debut in the last game against Edmonton after playing a full game in U18s.
“It was unexpected, he was not meant to play but a player did not turn up,” Morgan said.
“He is more than capable of doing it and he did very well.
“Players like Cain are the future of the club.”
The U18s will travel down to Cairns this weekend alongside the Reserves and A Grade as they face off against the Cairns Kangaroos and with a win, the U18s are hoping to overtake Brothers and sit fourth on the ladder, in position for a semifinal appearance.