Shannon Fraser takes the reins at Northern Suburbs
Former Randwick head coach Shannon Fraser has been named as the new man in charge at Northern Suburbs. The 39-year-old has signed up with a view to maintaining the Shoremen’s recent resurgence under departing head coach Simon Cron, who takes up a forwards role with the NSW Waratahs for 2018.
Fraser led Randwick to three successive Shute Shield finals series in his time at Coogee Oval, improving the Wicks’ ladder position each year under his tenure and finishing up with a 60% win percentage across his 57 matches in charge. He also oversaw the graduation from club rugby to the professional arena of young talent such as Ned Hanigan (Waratahs & Wallabies), Andrew Kellaway (Waratahs), David Horwitz (Waratahs & Melbourne Rebels), Mitch Short (Western Force), Harrison Goddard (Melbourne Rebels), Henry Hutchison (Aussie Sevens & Melbourne Rebels) and Andrew Deegan (Connacht, Ireland).
But while he takes plenty of positives away from his Galloping Greens experience, the chance to work with – and hopefully improve – a group of players who were Premiers in 2016 and runners-up last season, was simply too good for an aspiring young coach to pass up.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Randwick, learnt a great deal from the players and support staff, as well as from the experienced alumni within the club,” Fraser told Behind the Ruck. “And I’m proud to have played a role in elevating numerous players to higher representative honours.
“I was initially attracted to the head coach position at Norths because of the style of play that they have been producing over the past couple of seasons, and the character shown in their weekly performances. They use the ball well, back themselves under pressure and defend aggressively.
“It certainly presents a different challenge joining a club who is seemingly at the top of their game. But for me there are huge gains to be made, both individually and collectively, and I’m excited by the challenge of pushing this group further.”
Fraser is currently in the midst of a challenging NRC campaign, having been an integral part of the successful NSW Country Eagles coaching ticket for all four years as an assistant to Darren Coleman. He is in charge of a defence that has conceded the least amount of points of any side across the NRC’s short history, and is again leading the way in terms of shutting teams out in 2017.
With two rounds of the regular season remaining, the Eagles’ chances of a third finals appearance hang in the balance. But as soon as his NRC duties are complete, it will be full steam ahead at North Sydney Oval for Fraser and co. as the Shoremen look to go one better than their agonising grand final loss to Warringah back in August.
“While Norths’ recent success provides for a solid foundation moving forward, it’s imperative that the desire to improve and evolve, as both individuals and as a group, is maintained,” says Fraser.
“2018 is a new year and a new season that will bring new challenges. The dynamics of the group will inevitably change, even if only slightly, which is a positive if we look to where we are going and not rely on where we have been. I can’t wait to get started.”