World no. 1 Steelers hunting for home title

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

They’ve dominated the world Wheelchair Rugby circuit for the past decade and Australia’s Steelers are desperate to tick off another title.

The Aussies will be hosting the World Championships in Sydney next week, keen to cement their standing on home soil.

Coach Brad Dubberley knows how sweet a home ground win is.

He was part of the 2000 Paralympic side that won a gold medal in Sydney and wants the same feeling for his charges this week.

The world number one side has not missed a major final for the past decade and they’ll be the hunted in this international tournament.

Japan and the USA are their closest rival but Dubberley said those two would just be the tip of the iceberg.

“Hopefully our home support will take some of that pressure off but there's 11 other teams here that are trying to take us down and I think we're our biggest opponent,” Dubberley said.

“If we can not get distracted and we can keep concentration there and do everything we can and players play in our style we're a good enough team to get the job done.”

By Dubberley’s own admission the Steelers are in some senses not a ‘flashy’ team, instead priding themselves on brutal, uncompromising style of play.

“We're not so much flashy but we definitely like laying some big hits and the fast style of rugby,” he said.

“Where Europe is a lot more slower and patient where us, the US and Japan the top three teams in the world are all about speed and physical. It's a pretty entertaining brand to watch.”

The Steelers played out an epic double over-time gold medal match in Rio, beating out the USA in that tournament and Dubberley said they could pull out a repeat

“We've got the experience and again here on home soil hopefully that also helps us, the support that we'll have gets us across the line,” he said.

“The team's prepared really well and we have the ability to get the result.”

An emotional jersey presentation from captain Ryley Batt set the tone for the Steelers’ campaign ahead of Sunday’s opening ceremony.

The Steelers take on Japan, Sweden, New Zealand, Denmark and Ireland in their Wheelchair Rugby World Championship pool matches, kicking off on Sunday August 5.

A host of Classic Wallabies and Waratahs will be in actoin as part of the event as well, in a one-off match on Tuesday August 6.

The WRWC kicks off on Sunday August 5, LIVE streamed on the International Wheelchair Rugby Federation Facebook page.