Article written by Chris Guscott @Chris_Guscott
It’s no secret that the quarterback is the focal point of an offence, and in a lot of cases, the entire team. So whilst there are only three present at this year’s camp, the responsibility of their position isn’t lost on them.
Quarterback coach Ross Smith has the smallest group to govern, but the quality of the group is what matters most.
“There’s good leadership from them; I’m asking them to lead from the front. They’re competing as a group as well which is always great. They’re a bunch of coachable guys and a bunch of guys who are smart,” Smith said.
Simon Whitehead, Mark Shoebridge and Jared Stegman are those guys who will all be looking for their first spot on a World Championship roster, and the feeling within their small group is a positive one.
“We get a lot of work in but it makes everyone get a lot of coaching done so everyone really improves during the week,” Whitehead said.
Shoebridge added, “…we all know each other, we like to push each other but we also like to support each other. We also get a lot of time with Ross one-on-one, and we’re really quite tight…we’re able to speak to him on a player-to-player level.”
The level of competition for the illustrious quarterback spots certainly isn’t minimised however in spite of this.
“It’s definitely a tight contest going through with only three of you looking for minimal spots, yet it also helps with the odds because there aren’t that many of you to fill the spots that are available,” Whitehead said.
Smith added the same sentiment; “…we’ve made some big plays and some mistakes so everyone’s still learning, everyone’s still striving to get better. The fact that they’re competing means that it’s making my life tough, which is a good thing.”
To further add to the intrigue of the quarterback selection dilemma, 2011 World Championship starter Kiernan Dorney was unable to attend the camp but still remains heavily in the discussion for a spot after being involved with the Outback training camps in previous years.
When asked about Dorney, Smith was precise in his answer.
“Kiernan is still in the mix certainly. He’s a good quarterback, he obviously started at the last World Cup, so in some respects we know what we have in him. I have a depth chart in my head obviously, but it’s pretty fluid right now and changing on a daily basis.”
And when he was asked about whether there were any clear favourites in the race so far, he was even more precise.
“No. No clear favourites. Favourites, but no clear favourites.”