THE MACQUARIE Uni North Harbour Rays will welcome former Wallaby Julian Huxley to their coaching team for the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship season.
Huxley will take care of the Rays’ exciting legion of backs that will include the likes of scrumhalf Josh Holmes, Michael Adams and the man who scored one of the best tries of the 2014 NRC season Dave Feltscheer.
Huxley’s appointment is one of a number of other coaching team announcements with Manly Marlins head coach Damien Cummins taking care of the Rays’ forwards and James Brodie again heading up the strength and conditioning.
The 36-year-old Huxley, a former Wallaby, has been working with Sydney Uni in the Shute Shield for the past couple of seasons and this job at the Rays is a natural progression in his coaching development.
Head coach Geoff Townsend said he was excited to welcome such a talented and aspirational coach to the Rays’ family.
“Haig Sare (Warringah coach) set a good standard with our backline play in our first season and we won’t miss a beat with ‘Hux’ coming in,” Townsend said.
“At times our kicking game wasn’t up to speed last year so that’s an area that I think we will gain from having Julian in our coaching group.
“Julian was one of the best kicking out of hand players we have had in Australia over the past 10 or 15 years and I am sure with his guidance we will be able to get us to those parts of the field that we need to be to win games.”
In his playing days Huxley played nine Tests for the Wallabies debuting in 2007 and going to the Rugby World Cup in France under then head coach John Connolly.
He played Super Rugby for the Brumbies, Reds and Rebels playing a total of 81 games and notching up 342 points.
Huxley finished his time in Super Rugby at the Rebels in 2012 after making an emotional recovery from surgery to have a brain tumour removed and treated in 2011 while he was at the Brumbies.
Doctors picked up the tumour when Huxley had a seizure after the Brumbies 2011 match up against the Queensland Reds and immediately went into treatment that involved a major operation, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
When his time at the Rebels came to an end he had a season with Narbonne in the French second division. Narbonne is coached by his former Brumbies teammate Justin Harrison and run by former Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom.
Huxley is currently on holiday with his wife in France.
With the draw being released last week the Rays will begin to come together for the looming season next Wednesday night (July 8).
A number of contacts have been issued for players from the Rays catchment group (Gordon, Manly, Northern Suburbs and Warringah) and the likely leadership group has already met with Townsend to map out the way forward.
The Rays will share their home games between Manly Oval and Pittwater Rugby Park during the season with three of their four fixtures featuring afternoon kick-off times.
The draw will see the Rays open their season on Saturday, August 22 at Manly Oval with a family-friendly afternoon fixture against the Sydney Stars.
This game will have a 3pm kick-off and plans are in train for a number of major promotions in and around the game including having the great Sydney universities teams playing for a perpetual trophy.
The first game at Rat Park will be on Saturday, September 26 against the University of Canberra Vikings. This game will also have a family-friendly 3pm kick-off.
The other game at Manly Oval will be a broadcast game against the Melbourne Rising on Thursday, September 3 at 7.30pm while Rat Park will feature as the venue for the game against Queensland Country on Saturday, October 10 with a 3pm kick-off.
The Rays will feature in three broadcast games – v the Melbourne Rising on September 3, v Brisbane City on September 10 and v the Greater Sydney Rams on October 1.
The Rays NRC franchise is a joint venture of the Gordon, Manly, Northern Suburbs and Warringah clubs.