Falcons to carry burden of expectation in 2017
RUGBY LEAGUE: For the first time in years, there is the weight of expectation on the Sunshine Coast Falcons.
The state league side will start its 2017 pre-season on Monday, full of hope after a morale-boosting and surprising run through the 2016 Intrust Super Cup.
The Falcons went from perennial struggler to preliminary finalist, via coach Craig Ingebrigtsen, some astute signings and some Storm assistance.
Now, the team is regarded as a force to reckon with and pundits, fans and those within the club are predicting big things next time around.
"When a team has a successful season like we did you really do start getting a bit of expectation thrown on you,” club CEO Chris Flannery said.
"Last season we probably went into it with a bit of hope. We knew we'd signed a good coach and some very good players and we hoped we might make finals.
"This season we're probably expected to make the finals.
"There's some pretty lofty expectations but that's what the Sunshine Coast deserves; a team that's playing finals footy.”
The Falcons have lost key men Tom Murphy (France) Tui Kamikamica and Ryley Jacks (Storm) but has recruited well, with a string of prospects linking with the club.
Among them is ex-Sharks under-20s player-of-the-year Harrison Muller and highly-rated ex-Bulldogs half Guy Hamilton, as previously reported by the Daily.
"With the team we're assembling there is going to be pressure there to play finals footy again. That's what we're expecting now,” Flannery said.
"You can see the quality of the team next year is going to be really high so it's pretty exciting, especially off the back of what we've achieved this year.”
It's newest signing is ex-Storm under-20s hooker Connor Donehue.
Ingebrigtsen will be at the helm again.
"Trigger's probably made things a bit difficult for himself, in his first year coming third,” Flannery said.