Experience key for Vikings: Sampson

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Canberra Vikings hope that their host of experience will flow on to their youngsters as they vie to continue a positive start to the NRC season.

Canberra came from behind to beat Queensland Country 48-40 at Viking Park in their first outing, showing a grit that coach Tim Sampson said was down to the calm heads at their disposal.

“Pretty relaxed there (going into the second half) and I suppose you bank on your experienced players there, which we have a lot of,”he said.

“That second half, those guys stepped up and controlled the game really well.”

Sampson said the impact of those older players, including Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter and a host of his Super Rugby teammates as well as club stalwarts including Royals skipper Ben Johnston, would be felt across the team.

“You do rely on those players and hopefully as the tournament goes on they have an influence on the less-experienced players,” he said.

There will be plenty for the Vikings to work on ahead of their second round clash with defending champions Perth Spirit, who enjoyed a 45-33 win over Melbourne Rising on Sunday.

Lineout issues were a concern for Sampson against Country as was their quick concession of points either side of the break.

“Our line out didn't function too well so we'll put a bit of effort into that and just those mental lapses that leaked those tries,” he said.

“(There were) individual mistakes but we can't afford to be having that against a good opposition like Perth will be.”

Though the Spirit showed their attacking potency on Sunday afternoon, Vikings fullback Tom Banks impressed with his own five-pointer that was added straight to the weekend’s highlights reel.

Banks has had a breakout year with the Brumbies and Sampson sang his praises on Monday morning.

“He's a very good player Tom and you can see there if you give him half an opportunity he's a player that will definitely take it,” he said.

“He got us a lot of front foot ball there with his kick returns, which was great.

“They've got a good side on paper, Perth, a lot of Super Rugby players.

“I haven't had a look at their game yet but they'll be good at set piece and they've got a lot of speed out wide so we'll just make sure we're on point there with our defence.”

The Canberra Vikings host the Perth Spirit at Viking Park on Sunday, kicking off at 1pm AEST, streamed LIVE on foxsports.com.au/rugby.