The Buildcorp NRC will see four New South Wales team cut down to three for the 2016 season, but how will they go?
NSW Country Eagles
Taylor Adams, Mark Baldwin, Cam Betham, Tim Buchanan, Charlie Clifton, Sam Croke, Andrew Deegan, Folau Faingaa, Sam Figg, Jed Gillespie, Kyle Godwin, Jake Gordon, Ned Hannigan, Tom Hill, David Horowitz, Christian Kagiassis, Andrew Kellaway, Tolu Latu, Apauki Ma’afu, Ryan McCauley, Will Munro, Sam Needs, Alex Newsome, Rohan O’Regan, Rowan Perry, Angus Roberts,Tom Robertson, Reece Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Sonny Suatala, Mitch Short, Ernest Suavua, Jake Wainwright and Sam Ward.
Head coach Darren Coleman returns for his third season at the Eagles this year. A country-man himself born and raised in Southwest rocks, the former NSW country player says it’s a privilege to come full circle with the team.
The Eagles have their fair share of hot-shot players this season with 10 Waratahs, one Brumby and 4 Australian representatives in the 37-man squad. No doubt they’ll be out to prove their prowess and impress in the coming weeks.
With only 6 returning players from the previous 2015 season, there’s some question to whether the team is missing a familiar element in the squad. Coleman says he’s not worried though, as so many of the boys have come up from club rugby together.
Last season saw the Eagles miss out on a spot in the finals, a big disappointment from runners-up in 2014.
This year merging under one name, The Country Eagles and the former Sydney Stars will come together as a joint franchise. Only time will tell what’s in store for the revamped NSW Country Eagles this season.
4th. The Eagles will bounce back into the semis and be a handful in the 2016 Buildcorp NRC.
v Brisbane City on the 27th of August at Sydney Uni.
Harry Bergelin, James Brown, Cameron Clark, Tom Cusack, Tyson Davis, Jack Dempsey, Michael Dowsett, Damien Fitzpatrick, Con Foley, Adrian Hall, James Hilterbrand, Lawrance Hunting, Harry Jones, Sam Lane, Matt Lucas (c), Ezra Luxton, Johnathan Malo, Will Miller, Rory O’Connor, Nick Palmer, Dennis Pili-Gaitau, Dewett Roos, Angus Ryan, Irae Simone, Angus Sinclair, Hugh Sinclair, Michael Smith, Angus Ta’avao, Josh Turner, Michael Wells, Seb Wileman and Richard Woolf.
Simon Cron was named as head coach for the Sydney Rays after Damien Cummins stood down. Being awarded Shute Shield Coach of the Year in 2015 and recently leading the Northern Suburbs to their first Intrust Shute Shield in over 41 years, Cron will hope he can keep the momentum going.
The Rays will hit the ground running this season as Cron drives home the importance of mobility, skill and cohesion in the running rugby style of the of the Buildcorp NRC.
“The fast nature of the way the NRC is played means you’ve got to have players who are fit and mobile,” he said.
“And a big engine is essential to the way I want us to play the game.”
As opposed to their other NSW rivals, the newly named Macquarie University Sydney Rays could be lacking in experience from more notable talent and big name players.
Finishing up in the bottom three, the Sydney Rays will need to dig in to see an improvement over last year’s result. The Rays can rest easy knowing their round one matchup against rivals Western Sydney Rams, is a home game at North Sydney Oval.
With three of the Aussie Men’s Sevens who competed at the Rio Olympics lining up for the Rays, all eyes will be on Cameron Clark, Con Foley and Tom Cusack to see how they transition back to the 15-man format.
6th. The Rays will struggle to match it with some of the more experienced sides in the Buildcorp NRC.
v Western Sydney Rams on August 28 at North Sydney Oval.
Western Sydney Rams
Tom Alexander, Rhys Allen, Paul Asquith (c), Aaron Blacklock, Rob Buaserau, Mesake Doge, Scott Gale, Matt Gibbon, Harrison Goddard, Denny Godinet, Fabian Goodall, Ngaruhe Jones, Selesitino Kalounivale, Bradford Kapa, Taunaola Kei, Apolosi Latunipulu, David Lolohea, Mau David Minute, Albert Nikoro, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Jack Payne, Vatemo Ravouvou, Cyril Reece, Hugh Roach, Toupou Sapoaga, Luke Smart, Senio Toleafoa, Jordan Tuapou, Andrew Tuala, Filimone Tufui, Albert Tuisue, Nigel Viala, Tyrone Viiga, Mitch Walton and Waldo Wessels.
Former long-term assistant coach at the Wallabies, John Muggleton will be in the top job this year for the Rams, assisted by Jeremy Paul and Joel Wilson.
The Western Rams greatest strength this season is in the team that’s backing them. With a former Wallabies Assistant coach, a former Wallaby and a former Brumby on staff, the Rams have all the experience to shake the competition.
Looking to make Western Sydney great again, Muggleton went no further than the Rams feeder clubs for his squad. However, with most of the clubs on the bottom of the ladder in the Shute Shield, the Rams will need to put in the hard yards to improve on their position from 2015.
Coming in at the bottom of the table in 2015, it’s only uphill from here for the Rams leading into the 2016 season.
As the underdogs, the Rams have an element of surprise and have an opportunity to come from nowhere and put a scare through some of the more fancied NRC sides.
8th. The season ahead looks bleak for the Western Sydney Rams, expected to come in at the bottom once again.
v Sydney Rays on the 28th August at North Sydney Oval.