For the second straight year, each of the nine Direct Connect Dewar Shield Clubs will be represented in the Melbourne Rising, after Head Coach Zane Hilton today named his 33 man squad for the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC).
Two time defending champion Harlequin have the most players selected with eight, while fellow Semi Finalists Melbourne Uni have seven players selected. In total, fifteen players from the 2014 Minor Premiership winning Melbourne Rising return, including allocated Wallabies Tom English, Luke Jones and Sean McMahon.
Jones and McMahon are joined by fellow capped Wallabies Lloyd Johansson and Dom Shipperley in the squad, as well as Harlequin’s Cook Islands international Justin Marsters.
Other highlights of the squad see home grown Australian U20s representative Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne Uni) and Sione Tuipulotu (Southern Districts) selected, as well as former Hurricanes Development squad member Taiso Silafai-Leaana (Melbourne Uni).
Hilton said that his squad selection reflects upon the style of Rugby he wants to play.
“We want to play an exciting, expansive style, and the law variations of the competition encourage that,” he said. “We’ve got a wonderful opportunity to take our home matches out to the community in Ashgrove, Frankston, Geelong and Morwell, and we want to put on a great show for the fans.
“Make no mistake; we want to improve from last season, and we think we’re certainly capable if we work hard enough and continue to gel as a unit.”
Hilton said that it was very difficult to cull the Melbourne Rising Extended Training Squad (ETS), after an arduous campaign that began June.
“There were some tough decisions made, but ultimately we are very confident that having watched everybody in training and in the Dewar Shield or Super Rugby, we have the right balance in the squad,” Hilton said.
“There’s a number of ETS players who will continue to be in and around the squad, and a number of players who will certainly be back better next year and ready to have another crack.
“We’ve been particularly impressed by a number of the Dewar Shield players who return from the 2014 Melbourne Rising squad, such as Junior Paila, Pom Simona and Sione Taufa; their attitude has been spot on, as they’ve worked so hard to ensure we picked them rather than assume they’d get in again based on last season’s exploits.”
2015 Melbourne Rising squad:
Cruze Ah-Nau (Prop, Footscray & Rebels)
Mitch Andrews (Hooker, Melbourne)
Duncan Chubb (Prop, Southern Districts (NSW))
Steve Cummins (Lock, Harlequin & Rebels)
Jack Debreczeni (Flyhalf, Endeavour Hills & Rebels)
Murray Douglas (Lock, Harlequin)
Tom English (Wing, Melbourne Uni & Rebels)*
Colby Fainga’a (Flanker, Footscray & Rebels)
Maradona Farao (Scrumhalf, Harlequin)
Scott Fuglistaller (Flanker, Moorabbin & Rebels)
Stacey Ili (Wing, Melbourne Uni)
Sam Jeffries (Lock, Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
Lloyd Johansson (Centre, Harlequin)
Luke Jones (Lock, Moorabbin & Rebels)*
Pat Leafa (Hooker, Box Hill & Rebels)
Justin Marsters (Fullback, Harlequin)
Sean McMahon (Flanker, Endeavour Hills & Rebels)*
Ben Meehan (Scrumhalf, Box Hill & Rebels)
Tim Metcher (Prop, Moorabbin & Rebels)
Sakaria Noa (Lock, Southern Districts)
Junior Paila (Scrumhalf, Endeavour Hills)
Jonah Placid (Fullback, Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
Jordy Reid (Flanker, Melbourne & Rebels)
Fereti Sa’aga (Prop, Melbourne Uni)
Dom Shipperley (Wing, Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
Taiso Silafai-Leaana (Centre, Melbourne Uni)
Pom Simona (Number 8, Harlequin)
Leo Taliu (Centre, Harlequin)
Sione Taufa (Flanker, Harlequin)
Lopeti Timani (Number Eight, Footscray & Rebels)
Sasa Tofilau (Centre, Melbourne Uni)
Sione Tuipulotu (Centre, Southern Districts)
Mike Tyler (Prop, Power House)
* Indicates Allocated Wallaby