Ben Campbell Building Group Tweed Heads Seagulls head coach Ben Woolf has had his status as one of the state’s most credentialled mentors endorsed with his appointment as the Queensland under-20s State of Origin coach for 2020.
Woolf, the younger brother of the coach of the all-conquering Tonga international team and British Super League champions St Helens Kristian Woolf, has been handed the responsibility of moulding Queensland’s elite under 20s talent for the curtain-raiser clash against New South Wales before Origin II in Adelaide this season.
Ben will have players with NRL experience like Tom Dearden and Xavier Coates (Brisbane), Tanah Boyd (Gold Coast) and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui (Melbourne) at his disposal plus Ioane Seiuli who was part of his ISC club side last year, as well as the Seagulls’ national title winning under-18s teammates of last season in Coates and Juwan Compain (Titans).
The squad was involved in a weekend camp on the Sunshine Coast last weekend in their first opportunity to come together as a new coaching staff and squad, and former tough Queensland and Australian forward Michael Crocker was involved as a mentor.
Woolf said the camp was mainly about the players developing trust in themselves and the coaching staff and he would be imparting mostly benchmarks around the “effort areas” which are so important in matches at representative level.
“Michael Crocker was a great effort player himself and the message he gave them will be invaluable for them,” Woolf said.
“This is a really good experience for me; it’s the first time I have done any of the high level rep stuff although I have done a lot of coaching in the [Intrust Super] Cup and 20s as well. I’m hoping to learn from the players as well and learn from the experience.”
After four seasons as Gold Coast Titans under-20s National Youth League coach, Woolf took over – after the ending of the NRL under-20s competition in 2017 – from Aaron Zimmerle as the Seagulls’ head coach in 2018. He last year took the side to the semi-finals for the first time since 2014.
He has continued a Tweed tradition of providing Queensland rep coaches after Zimmerle led the Queensland Resident’s team in 2015-16.
Woolf gets his chance this weekend to get a first glimpse at his 2020 Seagulls side in action, and the depth of talent through the senior under-age teams, when the Seagulls conduct their opening trial matches at Piggabeen Sports Complex.
Saturday’s schedule is:
This Saturday’s match schedule:
Under-18s v Northern Rivers-Titans U18s at 3pm
Women’s v Northern Rivers-Titans at 4.15pm
Under-20s v Northern Rivers-Titans under 23s at 5.30pm
ISC v Gold Coast Titans at 6.45pm
Photo courtesy QRL