Gympie Devils expand with two new sides for 2019 season
Rugby League: Gympie Devils will aim for a competitive season as the club grows its sides for the year ahead.
An inaugural women's side and inaugural under-18s side will take to the field alongside the men's A-grade team.
Utility Joelene Scott travelled to Noosa to play with the Pirates and was one of the pioneers for the women's team in Gympie.
"The sport is growing and it is good for the juniors too,” she said.
"They have an under-12s and 14s going strong and then there is nothing. Gympie could not get an under-16s team going last year, so it is good to give the girls something to aspire to.
"They have some reason to keep playing and they can keep playing.”
The Devils Old Boys event featured one of the first women's games in Gympie and there was a lot of interest from that.
"There were parents coming up to us after the game saying that their daughters were watching and how excited they were to play,” she said.
"With the introduction of the NRLW, the interest in rugby league by women and girls has just exploded.
"There are more pathways for girls to go down if they keep playing.”
With training under way, the numbers have been good.
"We are still trying to grow with some of the girls coming across from union. They will try and play both but we will see how the season goes on,” she said.
"This year the season will be a little longer, last year there was only five teams but this year there could be a total of seven or eight.”
The club culture has improved with all the three sides training together.
"It has been a good mix with the three coaches on the deck each week,” she said.
"We are starting to separate now a little bit with drills, especially going into contact.”
But the women are anticipating a strong season ahead.
The men's side is hoping to turn it around after a difficult season last year.
"At the end of last season, when we were injury plagued, the club came together and put a plan in place to make us competitive again,” player Jake Harney said.
"Our recruitment of our head coach Michael Buckley has really helped us, bringing his knowledge.”
Harney said the Devils aim to have a competitive season.
"Our goal is to make sure we can field all three teams each week and be competitive each week,” he said.
"If you make the finals that's just a bonus at the end of the year.”
The Devils men's has a good mix of players in the side.
"We have a few local boys and Sunny Coast boys that decided to come up and play for Gympie,” he said.
"They followed Buckley here because they still wanted to play for him.”
Last year was Sam Brennan's first time not playing rugby league because there was no team he could play on.
The introduction of the under-18s side has allowed him to return to the field.
"I had a year off last year because there was no 18s team and I'm keen that there's a team this year,” he said.
"Training has been fun. I'm really enjoying it and it is good to have a lot at training.”
Brennan has been a bit rusty and has been training harder.
"There's a bit of room for improvement there but aside from that I'm getting back into it,” he said.
"I have a fair few mates in the side, boys I have grown up with.”
The hooker is excited to get back on the paddock and get a win under his belt.
"I usually play hooker but I can play utility,” Brennan said.
"When I was younger I was not very good at catching but I have enjoyed that position.”