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2018 was a memorable year for GPS, with the club breaking a 22-year drought to claim their first Hospital Challenge Cup since 1996.
The side defeated the University of Queensland on Grand Final day, marking the second consecutive year the rivals have met in the big dance. The teams also met in the major semi-final, where UQ were victorious 24-21 to move through to the decider. The Gallopers went on to trounce Easts 52-14 in the preliminary final, before overcoming the Students 23-16 to lift the Hospital Cup at Ballymore.
The premiership win has seen a host of experienced names leave the club, including veteran prop Ryan Freney, and premiership winning backs Albert Nikoro, Jaye Thompson and Tavita Davis, while last year’s assistant coach Elwee Prinsloo has taken the reins as Head Coach in 2019.
The Gallopers will also likely be without James Tuttle and twin props JP and Ruan Smith for much of the season due to injury and St.George Queensland Reds duties respectively, making their task of winning back to back premierships all the more difficult.
The side has recruited well, snaring former Queensland and Australian schoolboys Tuaina Tualima and Maile Ngaumo from Sunnybank and Souths respectively, while New Zealander Jethro Falemiand Matt Lieder from the Sunshine Coast have also joined the ranks at Yoku Road.
No side has won consecutive titles since the now defunct Canberra Vikings in 2003, can GPS break another drought in 2019 and win two on the trot?
THE INSIDE WORD
“We’ve recognised what we have done right over the past few years and now it’s about building on that. If we play the same standard of Rugby we played last year we won’t make the finals, so for us it’s all about improvement.
“Preseason went really well. The boys all seem to be in a really good headspace and are looking really fit after a good hit out in the trial matches.
“Of course going back to back is our end goal, but it’s not something we talk about a lot at training. We know we have to shift our game to improve and that’s our focus.”
- Elwee Prinsloo
PLAYER TO WATCH – Matt Gicquel
After a breakout 2018 season, Matt Gicquel will be a key factor if the Gallopers are to go back to back in 2019. The Sunshine Coast product was a revelation for Jeeps last season after making the move south, winning the Alec Evans medal as player of the final and earning National Rugby Championship selection with Brisbane City. Gicquel played five games for the City side in 2018 and will bring back newfound experience and skill to the Queensland Premier Rugby scene in 2019.
Jethro Falemi – West Harbour (New Zealand)
Matt Lieder – University of the Sunshine Coast
Tuaina Tualima – Sunnybank
Maile Ngaumo – Souths
Chris Kurindrani – Honda Heat (Japan)
22 MARCH 2019