Season review: Inconsistency costs Brothers in 2017
RUGBY LEAGUE: Gladstone Brothers had plenty to celebrate off the field this season with its 50th season celebration, but a year of inconsistency and injury plagued the proud Fish on the turf.
Brothers won six games and lost 10 with the team severely tested in defence after being on the end of some lopsided defeats throughout the season.
Coach Danny Blair talked through Brothers' season with The Observer.
Overall summary: "We probably finished where we deserved to finish. We didn't beat anyone who was above us, but beat every team below us,” Blair said.
"It was always going to be hard to be competitive against the Rockhampton sides and losing so many players from last year and not really getting any new players in.
"Results-wise on the books it didn't look like it was a very good year, but when I sat down and had a look at the stats of the individual players and the way they stepped up during the year some of them hadn't even played A-grade at all last year.
"From a development perspective the players played above and beyond what was expected from them.”
Positives: "From an individual players' perspective I think we went through about 52/53 players for the year just in A-grade. There was a consistent six players each week that had to step up after playing a full game of football in one of the lower grades,” Blair said.
"From a club perspective you couldn't have asked any more from the players and no one shirked their duties when asked if they could fill in for A-grade.
"The spirit around the club is probably what got us through the year and that speaks a lot about the people here.”
Negatives: Consistency. "At the start of the season I said consistency and because I came in late (during pre-season) one of the big things was fitness-wise they were off the pace the year before, so they'd worked on that and we were better with that this year but needed to be better again,” Blair said.
"But consistency was the big killer - I was still waiting for that 80-minute game and usually you can have at least one during the year and that didn't occur. We probably needed a couple of those, or near-perfect games, and that could have turned a few of the games for us.”
Turning point: The Representative Season. "We lost our captain Pryce Trevor for about six weeks with an ankle injury and Col Hillhouse for about four weeks with a pretty nasty head knock,” Blair said.
"We were already skating on thin ice with numbers. We had probably 14 consistent A-grade players and I said to the club if we get injuries we'll probably be in trouble, but we were hoping they might be towards the end of the year and not key players.
"When you lose your captain who is also your halfback and main playmaker steering around the side that's a big loss. Then you lose one of the most consistent rugby league players I've ever seen in Col Hillhouse, they were pretty big losses.
"From there we tried to stop-gap with other players but they got injured... it was just a domino effect from there.”
2018 crystal ball: Blair is in the box seat to retain the head coach role at Brothers having made himself available for the role, although the club will go through its due process in regard to 2018 recruitment before a decision is made.
"I've given them a list of things I think we need to work on as a club... I'm hoping I'll hear back pretty quickly in regards to whether I'm successful.”
Most games: David Ahern (16)
Most tries: Liam Johnson (9)
Most goals: Pryce Trevor (15)
Most points: Pryce Trevor (42)
Finished: seventh (W: 6, L: 10)
Points for: 310
Against: 748 (-438).