Classic Wallabies drive behind Penrith Rugby

by Montanna Clare

In an effort to share the winning attitude that saw them break a 41-year Shute Shield drought, 2016 Premiers Norths Rugby Club have travelled out west to train with this year’s Wooden Spoon recipients the Penrith Emus.

While most rugby competitions are over for the year, Sydney’s Shute Shield pre-season is well underway as both teams slogged it out in the sweltering temperatures.

Norths and Sydney Rays Head Coach Simon Cron said he spoke with Classic Wallaby Julian Huxley about combining training sessions, when Huxley was named as the new head coach for the Penrith Emus for the 2017 season.

“Me and Hux (Huxley) talked about three months ago when he was looking to come to Penrith,” he said.

“I said I’d love to bring my boys out here, and do some training sessions. There’s some amazing athletes out here and some great people.”

Norths broke their 41-year Shute Shield drought. Photo: Karen WatsonHuxley said that training with the premiers would benefit all involved and is a sign of what can be achieved in a small amount of time if you knuckle down.

“There’s a lot of things we want to emulate about Norths. Three years ago, they were 11th on the table, and in dire straits as a club,” Huxley said.

“They pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and they’ve done it themselves and that’s what we’ve got to do.

“They’ve done that by being more than rugby and it’s about being a community, being good people and in that spirit, they’ve come out here to share our journey with us.”

Julian Huxley will coach Penrith in the Shute Shield. Photo: Getty ImagesThe 9-Test Wallaby, whose also been an assistant coach at NRC side the Sydney Rays alongside Cron for the past two seasons, said the idea behind the training session was also about more than just rugby skills.

“It’s great for us. We get to play with a good club and train with them and learn some of the lessons for our guys,” he said.

“It’s really important to train amongst those guys to see the attitude and the competition that they train with. So if we can pick a few things up off that, that’ll be great for us.”

A former Rebels and Brumbies teammate of Huxley, Wallabies captain Stirling Mortlock was participating at the Nepean training session as well, praising the two coaches for coming together in the spirit of mateship and in the name of grassroots rugby.

“It’s for the best interest of rugby for us to help each other out, and it’s phenomenal,” said Mortlock.

“To be honest it’s a bit of a metaphor for what I think needs to happen in Australia full stop.

“We’ve got to have more singular purpose and focus on what we can do to make our game stronger, and for Cronny (Simon) and Jules (Julian) to lead the way it’s fantastic.”