Season Preview from Chris Hickey, EDRUFC Coaching Director. (Coach premiers 2, GF 6, Australian u21 ’06, ‘07)
This season, my 8th at Eastwood, shapes as a really exciting one for Club rugby. With the return of a proper home and away fixture list and improved access to our rep players, we can look forward to some good hard exciting Club footy – the way we all like it.
At Eastwood, we have 2 main philosophies about our football;
· Firstly, we like to play attacking and winning Rugby. We believe this is best achieved by playing with the ball in hand so that’s the way I structure our teams throughout the Club.
· Secondly, we believe in “growing our own”. We have a very successful track record of developing boys from when they first join the Club as young Colts and then helping them grow as a sportsman. Most years our first grade side consists of a majority of boys who have come through our Colts system and many who have played Junior Rugby with Eastwood.
So let’s take a look at how this season is panning out. Probably the first thing to notice is that we are playing under the Experimental Law Variations (ELV’s). NSWRU has decided that 1st , 2nd, 3rd, 4th grade will play under the new rules and the Colts under the traditional rules. It will be a bit confusing for us all but just like is happening in the Super 14, we’ll all learn from the experience and adapt. The aim of the new rules is to produce a game with fewer stoppages but retaining all the elements of the “contest” that we all enjoy so much. We’ve been training hard working especially on our fitness because the ELV’s will require much more non stop action around the park.
Secondly, the longer season will mean that inevitably with injuries and representative commitments, there will be a large number of players used in first grade. At this stage I expect to use around 35 players at one stage or another. That will really test the depth of all Cubs and we need to really focus on making sure that we have cover across all our positions. The Board has accepted my recommendation that we need to bolster our strength in a couple of key positions so although at the moment we are looking ok in most areas I’m working on recruitment for a few of the really specialist areas.
Our squad this season is a good mixture of seasoned first graders with some new young up and coming players. This year, I’ve promoted into Grade, 8 Colts from last years Grand Final team. I’m quietly excited about the impact some of these boys are going to have this season and along with the players returning to the Club we are looking to be competitive all the way through to September.
To date, we’ve played 1 trial ( v Newcastle) and although its very early days, I was pleased with how the squad went ( 54-14 win). For those of you who need your footy fix and would like to get a glimpse of the squad in action, we’ve got two more trials v (Penrith – away and West’s – home 15th March) before the seasons kicks off against Parramatta on Saturday 28th March at T.G. Millner Field for grade (Colts away).
One thing I learnt over all the years I’ve been coaching, is that there is nothing like having the crowd behind you to bring out the best in a team. T.G. Millner is a great ground to play and watch the game at. The players love hearing that roar from the veranda and from the grandstand as we go on attack and seeing how the team lifts. Let’s have lots of it this year!
see you at Millner