NRC season preview: Sydney Rays

NRC
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Rays will have a week to watch on as the other sides get underway, before throwing themselves into the 2017 fray.

Last year's regular season runners-up will again be relying on a host of Shute Shield prospects to compete in the NRC and unearth some local gems. 

SQUAD

PROPS

Dave Lolohea

Ezra Luxton

Cody Walker

Alex Westgarth

Lawrance Hunting

Sio Tatola

HOOKERS

Damien Fitzpatrick (c)

James Hilterbrand

Sam Kitchen

LOCKS

Connor Vest

Angus Ryan

Kawa Leauma

Dave McDuling

BACKROW

Hugh Sinclair

Alex Perez

Gary Bautz

Tom Connor

SCRUMHALVES

Nick Duffy

Harry Nucifora

Jack Grant

FLYHALVES

Sam Lane

Angus Sinclair

Rohan Saifoloi

CENTRES

Irae Simone

Harry Burey

Apo Latunipulu

OUTSIDE BACKS

Paula Balekana

Guy Porter

Josh Turner

Bryce Hegarty

Harry Jones

WALLABIES

Michael Hooper

Jack Dempsey

WHAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR?

The Rays fell one game short of the grand final in their first year under a NSW NRC restructure

Second after the regular season, the Rays were bettered by the Perth Spirit in the semi-finals.

MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER

Damien Fitzpatrick has taken over the leadership at the Rays with the departure of Matt Lucas to the Brumbies and how he pulls together this side will be criticial. Fitzpatrick made some headway in the hooker pecking order at the Waratahs last season and will look to continue that good work in the NRC.

With Tolu Latu off for a shoulder operation at some stage in the off season a good NRC season will provide the perfect springboard into the brave new world at the Tahs in 2018.

BOLTER

With the mix of youth in this squad, there are a few players in contention to break through in this year’s NRC. U20s scrumhalf Harry Nucifora has come across the border for game time with the Rays, and the youngster will have a chance to prove his worth in the provincial competition.

PREDICTION

They don’t have the host of Super Rugby stars that their other NSW sides do, but that didn’t seem to worry them in 2016.

If they can find the same cohesion they did last year, expect them to push for the playoffs again, but they'll be up against it.