After leading Northern Suburbs to their first Shute Shield title in 41 years, head coach Simon Cron now has the Sydney Rays sitting on top of the NRC.
He’s now on a 16 match winning streak across both competitions and while most coaches would be happy with such a feat, Cron couldn’t celebrate, less than satisfied with his side’s performance last weekend.
“Against Queensland Country we got up in the first half and then let some weak tries in,” Cron said.
“After we won it was a sober changing room because we were all realistic about how we let them back in the game and not doing the things we trained for.
“We should have probably ended up with a bonus point which didn’t happen.”
However, the assignment facing Cron to continue his hot-streak is tougher than ever, his side play the only other undefeated team in the NRC, the NSW Country Eagles this weekend.
“It will be a good test, they’ve been playing some good rugby,” Cron said.
“They’re littered with Super Rugby players and from my point of view, that’s good because of the opportunity to play against them and have a go at those guys.”
Despite the obvious challenge of playing a side with so much top-flight experience, Cron says his side will relish the opportunity to test themselves against some of the best in the country.
“There’s no doubt the Country Eagles with the number of Super Rugby players they’ve got adds a little spark for us,” Cron said.
“Do I think their Super Rugby players are better than my players? No I don’t.
“Maybe some of my boys can step up and show how good they are.”
Cron and the Rays have backed their club rugby combinations from the start of the year with Northern Suburbs teammates Angus Sinclair and Irae Simone two stand-outs so far for the side.
One of three Sydney sides in this year’s competition, the Rays have also been boosted by the inclusion of Rio Olympians and Sevens stars Cameron Clark and Con Foley.
“I think Clarky still has another 20-30 per cent in him in terms of getting back into 15s, it does take time, it’s a very different game but you’ll see him get better and better over the next four or five weeks and into next year as well,” Cron said.
“Con was outstanding when he started last week but got himself concussed so we will have to see how he pulls up for this week.”
They may be sitting on top the table after three rounds but Cron is very aware the ultimate prize lies at the end of the season.
“Shit yeah (we want to hold the trophy), we aren’t in it to lose, we’re in it to win it and that’s something we talked about from day one,” he said.
“We’re not just there to compete, we’re there to compete to win.
“That’s every person’s approach in our squad and in doing that we develop better rugby players and by the end of the NRC guys in the squad that people didn’t know about nationally, all of sudden have opportunites at Super Rugby and move on to higher honours. That’s the whole point.”
While Cron admits he’d be more than happy to extend his unbeaten run deep into the NRC season he knows the fortune of teams can change very quickly in the tight competition.
“Winning every week roles off the tongue nicely from my point of view, it beats losing but all it takes is 10 seconds of lack of focus and you get beat so you can’t afford to think about winning streaks,” he said.