NRC season preview: Canberra Vikings

NRC
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

The Canberra Vikings fell just short of finals in 2016, but a host of young talent mixed with Super Rugby quality makes them a greater threat this season.

Captained by Tom Cusack, who starred in the John I Dent Cup this season for the undefeated Royals, their forward pack has plenty of grunt, with Wallabies lock Sam Carter also among the group.

Their younger brigade will be influential as well, with capped Brumbies Jordan Jackson-Hope and Tom Banks in the back line to set the tone in attack.

SQUAD

PROPS

Les Makin

Faalelei Sione

Angus Wagner

Harry Lloyd

Max Bode

Sione Taula

HOOKERS

Folau Fainga'a

Robbie Abel

Sam Thomas

 TP Luteru

LOCKS

Blake Enever

Darcy Swain

Liam Rasch

Sam Carter

BACKROW

Ben Hyne

Tom Cusack

Lolo Fakaosilea

Rob Valetini

Angus Allen

Dean Oakman-Hunt

Michael Oakman-Hunt

SCRUMHALVES

Ryan Lonergan

Pedro Rolando

Joe Powell

FLYHALVES

Mack Hansen

Wharenui Hawera

Josh White

CENTRES

Jordan Jackson-Hope

Andrew Robinson

Brodie Leber

Fred Dorrough

OUTSIDE BACKS

Andrew Muirhead

James Dargaville

Lausii Taliauli

Ben Johnston

Ernest Suavai

Len Ikitau

Tom Banks

George Morseau

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?


Just one bonus point separated the Vikings from the finals in 2016, after the closest NRC season yet.

The games they lost blew out at times, costing them when finals were decided, a fact they’ll need to address in 2017.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER

Leadership is a highly-valued commodity in the NRC, where youngsters take the reins for the most part.

Having a Test lock and Brumbies co-captain in your ranks can only boost that, and Sam Carter’s involvement will be a crucial one for the Vikings this season.

Carter will be looking to work his way back into the Test scene through his NRC form, and that alone makes him a dangerous weapon to have in the side.

THE BOLTER

The Brumbies are looking for balance as finals approach. Photo: Getty ImagesTom Banks showed his bag of tricks for the Brumbies this season and the Queenslander will be back to take that to another level.

A smart fullback, Banks is a strong finisher with plenty of pace on him and the NRC is a chance for the 23-year-old to truly announce himself on the professional stage.

Look out also for Gungahlin flyhalf, Mack ‘Bernie Junior’ Hansen, who lit up the club rugby scene on debut for the Eagles this year, before signing a full-time Super Rugby contract.

PREDICTION

The Vikings will be in the mix, but it will be difficult for them to take the step up into 2017.

If they can keep their losses closer and close out those tight matches, they'll be pushing for playoffs again.