Season review: Tough end to season for Valleys
RUGBY LEAGUE: Valleys went in to the 2017 Rockhampton Rugby League season the most prepared out of all the Gladstone sides, but ultimately suffered the same fate as its cross-town rivals.
Expectations were high after a promising pre-season ended with victories over Brisbane Valleys and Biloela, although injury eventually took its toll as the season wore on.
Outgoing Valleys coach Shaun Hobson spoke to The Observer about how his side fared this season.
Positives: One of the main positives was the club's junior ranks are in safe hands.
Its under-20s and reserve grade sides made the finals and four out of the six games on junior grand final day featured Valleys with seven players in the U18s playing A-grade this season.
"We didn't make the finals but we did beat Brisbane Valleys (28-22 in Brisbane) without a full-strength side and they went on to win the Brisbane Rugby League premiership,” Hobson said.
"We knocked off Rocky Brothers with about 10 players missing and they went on to win the Rocky premiership.
"We've only been beaten by a local side once in two years, so as much as we were poor we were still very competitive locally.”
Negatives: "I don't think there was many, it just wasn't one of those years and it wasn't just Valleys,” Hobson said.
"I suppose expectation was high on us and rightly so. I put a higher expectation on us because of the talent we had had available to us.
"Unfortunately due to some season-ending injuries and work issues that every team goes through in Gladstone we just weren't able to consistently field strong sides. This eventually led to us missing out on the finals.”
Turning Point: 21 players unavailable. "From very early on in the season we were dealing with almost that amount of players missing week in, week out and it didn't get much better,” Hobson said.
"I don't want to go big on certain players or individuals, but the loss of (captain and lock) Les Nicholson (knee) and (halfback) Barry Blackman (broken leg) in successive weeks, probably two of the best players in the competition and leaders in our club, so to lose the two of them after only four games is going to hurt anybody.”
Overall summary: "From an A-grade point of view we finished exactly where we deserved to finish,” Hobson said.
"You can make excuses all you want and there were certainly work and injury issues, but at the end of the day we landed sixth and that wasn't quite good enough.
"That's pretty fair indication of where we should have been.”
2018 Crystal Ball: Hobson won't be back at the helm next season due to family reasons. The club has a replacement lined up and will make its announcement in due course.
"He's a fantastic football coach,” Hobson said of his replacement.
"With him at the helm and most of our U18s, U20s, quality reserve graders and good core group of A-graders playing, Valleys are certainly going to be a force in years to come.”
Most games: Caleb Van Lawick (15)
Most tries: Sam Smith (12)
Most goals: Caleb Van Lawick (27)
Most points: Caleb Van Lawick (66).
Finished: Sixth (W: 7, L: 8, D: 1)
Points for: 494
Against: 511 (-17).