Overview with Rod Seib:
"When you look back on a season, you usually look at the win/loss record, so on the surface it was a disappointing year. Obviously only winning twice, against the Rams and Queensland Country, it certainly wasn’t the season we were hoping for but in saying that, NRC games can be won or lost very quickly and in a few of our games, there were some key moments when we didn’t make the most of our opportunities and that was probably very telling in our season.
"There were a couple of games that got away from us, the very first match against NSW Country, that was quite winnable but we didn’t perform as well as we should have. It was the same against the Sydney Rays, there was only a try in it and it could have gone either way so if we had of picked up those two wins, we would have been in the finals and then it’s quite a different year.
"I think it had a lot to do with preparation. We had a very limited preparation and going into our first game, we’d only had four training sessions behind us. Most teams would have been the same, but it definitely made it difficult to have a cohesive style of play and then we only had two training sessions a week during the season, so that limited what we could change through the year.
We started the tournament with quite a few injuries, we had to rule out Karmicheal Hunt, Junior Laloifi, guys that really would have lit up the NRC. In saying that though, the Reds players that did play for Brisbane City were fantastic, they led the group and I was really pleased with the contribution of those players. Most of them would have been quite fatigued towards the end of the year but the leadership qualities that they showed were fantastic.
"It was a very different team this year. If you look at the teams we had in the first two years, we had a lot more contracted players so we knew it was going to be tougher. Our ambitions were to make the finals and we needed to win more games then we lost to do that. We thought that was quite possible with the group we had but unfortunately we fell a few wins short.
"In terms of development of players, it was great to see some young blokes get exposure as that next level. Guys like Jayden Ngamanu, who has come through and got some exposure and now he’s ended up with a Reds contract. Hopefully he will go on to bigger and better things and there are a few other examples of that player development, guys that are now ready to play at the next level.
"In terms of attack, I think we failed to recognise opportunities when they were presented. We created opportunities but we just didn’t capitalise and I think we missed quite a few opportunities that cost us. Defensively, we just missed too many tackles. Our defensive patterns were quite effective but we just missed too many tackles and that is a core element.
"Our strength was probably our scrum. Probably the core of our team was our front row. Sam Talakai, Andrew Ready and Pettowa Paraka, those three guys were really good leaders and they showed throughout the season that they were up there with the best front rowers in the competition."
"As I mentioned, the front row were very strong. Lukhan Tui was also great. He’s a young second rower who got better and better with every game. He was a really dominant force and the few moments when he wasn’t on the field, we really noticed so I think he was very much the standout alongside our front row."
Which of your players deserve to play rugby at a higher level?
"Certainly Lukhan. I think he’s only been playing the game for a few years and he’ll continue to get better over the next few years. Obviously there are a few fantastic second rowers ahead of him at the moment at the Reds, but I’m sure he’ll get opportunities to play off the bench and with injuries, he may even get some starting time. He’s one player that I’d expect to kick on.
"Jake Strachan, our young flyhalf is another. He didn’t get a lot of opportunity with Jake McIntyre there but he is all class. He’s got a fantastic skillset and I think with a bit more exposure at that next level, he’ll continue to get better. He’d only be 20,21 and I think he’ll come on in the next few years."
What can Brisbane City do to improve, on and off the field?
"We are really aided by the fact that the Reds do support the team, but in terms of preparation, it would be great if we could harness some of the time that the Reds spend together on NRC game plans and things like that, I think it would really help.
When you look at some of the other sides, Perth, Melbourne, Canberra, you can see that they’ve been playing and training together quite a lot and they all know what they are doing. When you are bringing guys together from everywhere and you’ve only got a couple sessions a week to train, it makes things quite difficult."
Was the NRC a success in 2016 and can it get better?
"I think the NRC this year was very much a success. Anyone could beat anyone this year and that hasn’t been the case in the past. Last year, City went through undefeated and you could probably argue that there were a couple of tiers in the competition, whereas this year in the second last round, the team on the bottom of the ladder beat the team on the top of the ladder. It really does show that while some scores did blow out from time to time, it really was quite an even competition. The fact that going into the last round, no one knew who was going to be in the finals, I think that bodes well for the future of the competition so I think it will go on to bigger and better things.
"I think the Fiji side next year will be great for the competition. We also need to make sure that all the contracted players that aren’t playing with the Wallabies are playing NRC, that will keep the standard as high as possible and that is crucial. Over time, I think supporters will become more parochial about their own teams and I think the supporter base will grow in the future."