A BUOYANT Sunshine Coast coach Brandon Costin is confident his Sea Eagles are far better placed this season to handle the type of injuries that have befallen them this week.
The premiership-winning coach yesterday described the long-term loss of winger Michael Chapman (knee reconstruction) and hooker Cameron Joyce (broken leg) as “massive”, as the seventh-placed Eagles find themselves in a dogfight to make the top six with six rounds remaining.
Nine teams have a realistic chance of making the Queensland Cup finals, with the top two, Souths Logan and Norths, the only guaranteed starters.
Chapman, who the coach described as “one of the best players we have week-in, week-out”, will not play again this season, and former captain Joyce may not make it back it on to the field before the finals.
Costin said, however, the depth at his club in 2010 was far superior to what he had at his disposal in their inaugural season, last year.
“It’s miles better,” he said.
“This year we have players in the FOGs who are playing really well and have Q-Cup experience.
“The FOGs are going great guns, as are the colts, who have won six in a row.
“It’s a good position for us to be in and shows we do have good depth at this club.”
Costin said the Sea Eagles had struggled through last year’s representative period, when State of Origin selections meant some regular Coast players were called up to play for Manly in the NRL, and others, such as gun halfback Trent Hodkinson, were on Queensland Residents duty.
He highlighted that a Hodkinson-less Eagles team was thumped by Souths Logan about this time last year, but this year’s Coast team, without similarly influential halfback Daly Cherry-Evans, managed to beat the competition-leading Magpies away from home last weekend.
Sunshine Coast has been a shortener in betting for the premiership in recent weeks and yesterday was listed at $9 on Sportingbet, with Souths Logan favourite at $3, ahead of Norths on $3.50.
Burleigh and Redcliffe were $8 and Mackay and Wynnum $9.
Costin has a points target in mind to make the finals, but will not be revealing publicly, or to his players, what it is.
LADDER: Souths Logan 24, Norths 24, Redcliffe 20, Wynnum 19, Mackay 18, Burleigh 17, Sunshine Coast 16, Northern Pride 16, Tweed 12, Easts 10, Central 10, Ipswich 6.