The Greater Sydney Rams jumped from ninth to sixth last season, and are expected to push for finals this year.
Boasting a formidable squad featuring many Shute Shield stars, the Rams have the quality to contend for the title if fit and firing.
Led by John Manenti and Brian Melrose, Greater Sydney have plenty of experience in the brain’s trust, and have all it takes to put together a strong season.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST SEASON?
The Rams finished sixth with two wins and five losses, missing out on finals by three competition points.
MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER?
With such a young lineup, loose forward Jed Holloway will Greater Sydney’s most important player in the 2017 season.
The 24-year-old had another injury-interrupted season in Super Rugby and the NRC will provide him a rare chance to string consistent games together.
Holloway missed much of the NRC in 2016 but has made his mark in the competition in thep ast.
The most experienced campaigner in the squad, strong play from Holloway will be essential for a good season.
Centre Ben Cotton was nominated for Shute Shield Rookie of the Year in 2017, off the back of a standout season for the West Harbour Pirates.
Just 12 months ago, Cotton was playing third grade, but a stunning bolt up the ranks at West Harbour culminated in his unlikely Rams selection.
A strong-running and defensively minded midfielder, an impressive season from Cotton could help his meteoric rise take another step in 2018.
Greater Sydney’s squad carries a strong Shute Shield influence from years past, and there is plenty of cause for optimism.
Manenti and Melrose are two of the most experienced coaches on the Australian club rugby scene, and their leadership will be invaluable for their young team.
If some of the club connections can carry their form to the NRC, there could be plenty of fireworks on offence.
Mack Mason, Taqele Naiyaravoro and Dennis Pili-Gaitau stand out as dangerous backline attackers, while Adrian Hall, Albert Tuisue and Holloway will provide plenty of grunt up forward.
With two coaches intimately familiar with their players, the Rams are shaping up for their best season yet.