Young Devils locked down for title defence

BACK AGAIN: 25 Members of the Wests senior squad that delivered the 2018 premiership are signed for 2019. Picture: Robert Peet
BACK AGAIN: 25 Members of the Wests senior squad that delivered the 2018 premiership are signed for 2019. Picture: Robert Peet

THE last time Wests broke a premiership drought it was with a flood that lasted a further two years.

Plans are already afoot to repeat the effort with 25 members the senior squad that delivered Sunday’s gutsy 18-16 grand final victory already signed on for next season.

In what is perhaps another omen, coach Pete McLeod attended Mad Monday dressed as Dragons coach Paul McGregor who oversaw a threepeat of titles with the Devils between 2009 and 2011.

Delivering the club’s first title since McGregor’s tenure, something predecessors Jasn Ryles and Brett Kimmorley fell agonisingly short of, was reward for the club’s faith. 

It made his retention a no-brainer even prior to Sunday’s win according president Matt Reh.

“He served a fair apprenticeship under the blokes he had and to I see the effort he puts in behind the scenes,” Reh said.

“I saw that before we gave him the job and he’s the type of bloke that, once you give him something, he’s going to give you 100 per cent in whatever he does and he’s reaped the rewards because of it.

“You talk to the players and they’ve got so much respect and rapport with him. It was just the right fit and it’s pretty special what he’s done.

“He could go on and be an NRL coach in my eyes and he’s definitely got the job next year I can tell you that.” 

The club also claimed the preseason Challenge Cup and minor premiership in a dominant year with the 17 for Sunday’s decider featuring eight local juniors and a spine all under the age of 25. 

“Pete put a lot of faith in those young blokes and they repaid the faith,” Reh said.

“They’re all juniors and they’re all young kids I saw grow up through the club and I wanted the to play first grade. It’s what we’re about.

“To bring Glenn [Stewart] back and Jimmy Grehan, Luke Towers and Mitchy [Porter] just to complement those younger blokes, it was just outstanding.” 

In an ominous sign for their rivals, the bulk of the youthful squad will return in 2019 with the aim of defending their crown.

“It’s outstanding that we’ve got 25 of them signed for next year,” Reh said.

“You get down there and watch them train, and I get a chance to watch the quite a bit, they rip into each other and give 100 per cent at training and with each other. They’ve become a really close knit group. 

“It’s a team effort with all the support staff that goes with it, people like Leann Andrews, we’d be lost without her. It’s 70 years next year for the club but we’ll enjoy this one first and then we’ll worry about next year.”