2014 was a memorable first year in the ACT for Jarrad Butler to say the least.
After signing with the Brumbies, the flanker had a standout season in Super Rugby and was rewarded with the club’s Shawn Mackay Most Outstanding Young Talent Award and the team’s highest on-field honour – the Brett Robinson Player’s Player award.
If that wasn’t enough, Butler then went on to claim the University of Canberra Vikings inaugural Player’s Player award following a standout season in the 2014 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship.
In recognition of just how far this 24-year old has come since moving to the nation’s capital, he has been named the UC Vikings captain for 2015.
“I’m really excited to be able to captain the team this year,” Butler said.
“I think it’s a big privilege.”
Butler was the side’s vice-captain in 2014 and led from the front. He scored five tries in seven appearances for the side.
The UC Vikings finished the 2014 NRC in sixth place recording two wins, two draws and four losses.
The skipper says the new-look side is hoping to improve on those results this year.
“I think we took a lot away from last year as far as what we need to do differently,” Butler said.
“This next couple of weeks is going to be really important to kind of get back to training and get used to playing again and then I think we’re going to have a really good year.
“I think we’ve got the squad to really compete and hopefully win the competition.”
This year’s UC Vikings squad contains 20 players with Super Rugby experience including the most capped prop in Wallabies history, Ben Alexander, along with up-and-coming players such as Rory Arnold, Blake Enever and Lausii Taliauli to name a few.
Butler says the fact that 18 of the UC Vikings squad members train together regularly with the Brumbies will be a huge advantage heading into the nine-round NRC season.
“We’ve got that link at the moment so straight away there’s not too many guys who will have to learn new plays or things like that,” he said.
“The coaches have worked really hard to make changes and now it’s just up to us as a playing group to get on board and change as well and perform.
“It’s a really strong squad.”
The 2015 UC Vikings squad contains players from all seven John I Dent Cup sides. Butler says the NRC is a great way to showcase the talents of players from the local competition who are coming through the ranks of Australian rugby.
“Guys like Rowan Perry who had a little bit of a taste last year and who is back again this year, he’s going to be really good,” Butler said.
“I’m looking forward to seeing him in particular.”
Butler says the Vikings are focused on improving their speed around the park in 2015, in-line with the competition’s law variations.
“It’s faster than Super Rugby with the different rule variations so I think it’s going to be interesting.”
“At the moment our focus is round two or our round one (against NSW Country).”
The UC Vikings have the bye in the first round of the 2015 Buildcorp NRC and will officially begin their campaign in round two against the NSW Country Eagles in Sydney.
The side’s first match at Vikings Park will be on Saturday, 5 September against the Greater Sydney Rams.
Fans can now purchase a Vikings season membership for the 2015 NRC by following this link. Adult memberships are $50 and children under 15 are $30.