WENTWORTHVILLE MAGPIES

The Wentworthville Magpies will rely on defence and depth this season as they seek to go one step further and contest the VB NSW Cup Grand Final in 2015.

After finishing the 2014 season in third position before bowing out to eventual premiers Penrith Panthers in the Preliminary Finals, coach Brett Cook is looking forward to the upcoming season with a number of positive signings for the club.

“I think we have a good group of players between Wentworthville and Parramatta and I think we’ll have a bit more depth at our disposal this season,” said Cook.

Whilst Wentworthville were one of the competition’s leading attacking teams throughout last season, Cook is adamant that the Magpies will need to improve on their defence if they are to compete with the leading teams this season.

“Our defence just has to improve. We were only just behind the Panthers last season in attack, but when it came to defence; we were somewhere towards the bottom of the top eight,” Cook said.

“We’ve had no trouble scoring tries, but we need to work on stopping them.”

Whilst Cook has been pleased with the way all new recruits have been training in the off-season, Mounties recruit Fred Pakutoa and former Tigers half Jack Madden have been the standouts in a strong squad.

“Fred’s trained really hard, taken everything on board, hasn’t missed a session and looks set for a big season in 2015,” he said.

“Jack Madden had a few injuries and didn’t play a lot of football for the Tigers last season, but I think he’s a great player who will get an opportunity at some stage this season and he’ll be ready to take it.”

The Magpies look set to be boasted by the return of Ben Jones and Isaac Maliota who are currently playing in the French Rugby League competition and will return to Wentworthville later in the season.

“Ben and Isaac indicated to us that they wanted to have that experience and both have stated that they are happy to return to Wentworthville and will be very handy additions to our team later in the season.”

The Magpies kick-off their 2015 VB NSW Cup season when they face the North Sydney Bears on Sunday, March 8 at Ringrose Park.

GAINS: Jack Madden (Wests Tigers), Michael Stevens (Wests Tigers), Fred Pakutoa (Mounties), Zeb Tawha (QRL), Alan Niulesa (Cronulla Sharks Under-20s), Corey Maitland (Parramatta Eels), Sam Gorman (Parramatta Eels)

LOSSES: Brendan Mckinnon (Wynnum-Manly), Pat Mataele (Mounties), Ben Jones (French Rugby League), Isaac Maliota (French Rugby League), Justin Hunt (Dragons – NRL)