NRC: 2016 grand final teams named

by Marty Cambridge

The wait's almost over, with the NSW Country Eagles and Perth Spirit set to do battle for the 2016 Buildcorp NRC title.  Here's how they will line-up on Saturday night. 

NSW Country Eagles v Perth Spirit

Saturday 15 October, 7:45pm (AEDT) at Tamworth Rugby Park   

The NSW Country Eagles will have to play the decider without Wallaby, Tom Robertson and first-choice hooker, Tolu Latu due to national commitments.  Coach, Darren Coleman calling on the services of Folau Fa’ainga and Sam Needs to join skipper and Tamworth-local Paddy Ryan in the front row. 

Paddy Ryan hopes to lift the Buildcorp NRC trophy in front of his hometown. Photo: Getty Images The rest of the starting XV remains the same from last weekend’s semi-final demolition of Melbourne Rising, with the 2016 top-try scorer Jake Gordon and Andrew Deegan calling the shots in the halves.  

Consistent centre pairing Dave Horwitz and Kyle Godwin will look to continue their great combination with Godwin getting another opportunity to take on his former Western Australia teammates. 

Sam Figg and Rowan Perry have been prolific so far this season and will again be the starting flankers, with Rohan O’Reegan and Tim Buchanan in the second row. 

Buchanan with the chance to be the first player ever to win two Buildcorp NRC titles with two different clubs after winning the 2014 championship with Brisbane City.

Perth Spirit will field a full-strength side for the decider with last year’s Buildcorp NRC Player of the Year, Jono Lance named to start at flyhalf.

It remarkably pushes last weekend’s two-try scorer and semi-final Man of the Match, Ian Prior to the bench. 

AJ Alatimu is the unlucky one to miss out on the match-day 23, while Luke Morahan has been selected at fullback despite training with the Wallabies since Monday.  

Coach, Dwayne Nestor has kept an unchanged forward pack that features former Wallaby prop Pek Cowan, young gun Ross Haylett-Petty, and Western Force regular and Spirit captain Heath Tessmann.

Luke Morahan has been released from Wallabies duty and will line-up at fullback for Perth Spirit. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe side will feature seven players that went down in the 2014 grand final to Brisbane City, including Morahan, Cowan and speedster, Marcel Brache.

The last time the two sides met was in Round 5 where the Country side won by 24 points at Concord Oval. 

NSW Country Eagles

Starters: Paddy Ryan (c), Folau Fa’ainga, Sam Needs, Rohan O’Reegan, Tim Buchanan, Sam Figg, Rowan Perry, Sam Ward, Jake Gordon, Andrew Deegan, Alex Newsome, Kyle Godwin, David Horwitz, Reece Robinson, Andrew Kellaway.

Reserves: Luke Holmes, Jed Gillespie, Cam Bentham, Ryan McCauley, Tom Cusack, Mark Baldwin, Tayler Adams, Tom Hill.

Perth Spirit

Starters: Pek Cowan, Heath Tessman, Jermaine Ainsley, Kieran Stringer, Onehunga Havili, Ross Haylett-Petty, Richard Hardwick, Brynard Stander, Ryan Louwrens, Jono Lance, Semisi Masirewa, Ben Tapuai, Billy Meakes, Marcel Brache, Luke Morahan. 

Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Laione Mulikihaamea, Shambeckler Vui, Grayson Knapp, Kane Koteka, Michael Ruru, Ian Prior, Eric Vasukicakau.

Catch the Buildcorp NRC grand final LIVE and exclusive on FOX SPORTS 2 at 7:45pm AEDT following the Bledisloe.