MACQUARIE Uni North Harbour Rays head coach Geoff Townsend believes young backrower Jack Dempsey is ready to stamp his mark on the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship.
Dempsey made his NRC debut for the Rays in their inaugural season last year and then spent the entire year (a tough Michael Cheika style pre-season included) with the Waratahs.
“Yeah he’s ready to go and we’re expecting big things from him this year,” Townsend said.
“He’s big, fast and has all the attributes that you like to see in backrower playing the modern game.
“In the 11 games that he has played for me at Gordon this year he has scored 14 tries and his defence is right up there with the best at a 96 percent success rate.
“He has also taken on a leadership role in recent weeks at the Highlanders and has done a great job.”
Townsend’s comments come as the Rays announce the bulk of their squad for the 2015 season.
The club is yet to nominate three props and will look closely at a number of candidates over coming week.
They are also in talks with the ARU regarding the acquisition of a marquee tighthead prop and hope to have some positive news in coming weeks.
Wallaby Scott Sio, who played off the bench for the national team in their first two Tests of the winter, has declared his availability for the Rays and will be used as much as possible before he heads to the USA for the Test v the USA Eagles.
This year’s squad has a much more even distribution of talent from the four feeder clubs with 11 players coming from both Manly and Warringah, six from Gordon and Northern Suburbs and one from Eastwood.
The vastly-experienced lock Cameron Treloar has also put his hand up to play for the Rays this year and Townsend said this, along with the procurement of a marquee tighthead prop, was a key to the side doing well.
“With Greg Peterson heading overseas we need a guy who could run our lineout and Cameron will fill that role perfectly,” Townsend said.
“Cameron works as a policeman now but we will fit in and around his work commitments.”
Like his skipper Luke Holmes, Townsend believes the squad has learnt from their 2014 NRC experience and will be ready to go when the first game comes at the end of August.
“We also have some real gas on the outside channels with the likes of Richard Woolf, Alex Northam, Richard Hooper, Sione Ala and John Porch in the extended squad,” Townsend added.
THE SQUAD: Luke Holmes (Warringah, captain), Scott Sio (Wallabies, Brumbies, Northern Suburbs), Josh Holmes (Warringah), Mitch Lewis (Manly), James Hilterbrand (Manly), Sam Ward (Warringah), Ed Gower (Manly), Cameron Treloar (Warringah), Mark Johnson (Gordon), Harry Bergelin (Manly), Jack Dempsey (Gordon), Sam Lane (Manly), Reece Hodge (Manly), Michael Adams (Warringah), Dave Feltscheer (Warringah), Tom Hill (Eastwood), Ruairidh Wilson (Gordon), Harry Rorke (Gordon), Lawrence Hunting (Northern Suburbs), Boyd Killingworth (Warringah), Hamish Angus (Warringah), Richard Hooper (Manly), Alex Northam (Manly), Rory O’Connor (Warringah), Tim Donlan (Manly), Tyson Davis (Warringah), Richard Woolf (Northern Suburbs), John Porch (Northern Suburbs), Dennis Pili-Gaitau (Manly), John Fakai (Manly), James Wilkinson (Gordon), Tyson Davis (Warringah), Nick Palmer (Northern Suburbs), Sione Ala (Gordon), Tim Duschene (Northern Suburbs).
NOTE: Three props still to be named.
HEAD COACH: Geoff Townsend (Gordon)
ASSISTANT COACH: Damien Cummins (Manly)
ASSISTANT COACH: Julian Huxley (Gordon)
DIRECTOR OF RUGBY: Grahame O’Donnell (Northern Suburbs)
TEAM MANGER: Aidan Baker (Warringah)