Ex-Maroochy coach has Noosa primed to play his former team
RUGBY LEAGUE: Having coached Maroochydore Swans to last year's Sunshine Coast rugby league grand final win, Brett Winkler is now primed as the new Noosa Pirates strategist keen to blow their title defence out of the competition "water”.
Winkler has been, over two stints and six seasons, a talisman for the Swans division one players, steering them to five grand final showdowns for three wins.
Now he works in Noosa as local MP Sandy Bolton's right hand man, and has grabbed the chance to take a faltering Pirates outfit, and turn the ship around.
With two wins for the past two starts plus a draw to their name, his Noosa works in progress, are showing positive signs of announcing themselves as the real deal in 2019. And playing at home on Saturday at Pirate Park is the perfect place to consolidate their recent gains.
Nothing would give Winkler greater satisfaction than showing his old side, jointly coached by his former reserve grade and under 18 coaches Steve Wedd and Tony Henderson, that the Pirates are far from a spent force.
He's not heard from the Swans camp this week, but admits to having "lots of good years there and many friendships” but "it's sport and you're there for your team”.
"Past allegiances don't come into play,” Winkler said.
"One of our goals as a team has been to improve 5 per cent every week and we've been getting that probably for the last month or so. We had a reasonable week last week against Caloundra, and if we can get that 5 per cent improvement again then we should be competitive against Maroochydore.”
Winkler's first task at Noosa has been to rebuild and restructure the whole club set up and there is still an important foundation to lay yet. And that is strengthening the club depth to ensure the reserve graders are pressuring the top players for spots in Div 1.
"That's really important for us, so that kids coming out of 18s who may be on the fringe of playing A-grade need to be playing in a competitive team... that's one of the things I was able to achieve down in Maroochydore,” Winkler said.
Winkler said the Swans have three Sunshine Coast rep players that creates some real strike power "so our guys will need to be on their best on the day”.
And as for his coaching apprentices in Wedd and Henderson now shaping to show their former club mentor they have his measure, Winker said: "I haven't shown them all my secrets”.
"But our first priority is to concentrate on our game, before we start to worry about the other guys.
"We'll have two or three key things that we'll have a look at in terms of their team set up, that we want to work on to nullify, but we won't worry about any (Swans) individuals.”
In other matches, Beerwah hosts Stanley River and Kawana hosts Gympie. On Sunday, Caloundra hosts Caboolture.