NRC Squad Announcement: Canberra Vikings
Photo: Stephen Tremain
The fifth season of the National Rugby Championship (NRC) gets underway in just eight days time, and the eight competing teams in 2018 are slowly releasing their squads. We’ve already taken a look at Brisbane City, Queensland Country and the Western Force, so let’s see how things are panning out down in the nations’ capital at the Canberra Vikings.
Runners-up last year and in 2015, the Canberrans will be keen to go one better this time round, and have selected a squad chock-full of Brumbies that will take some stopping. Nick Scrivener comes in to replace Tim Sampson in the head coaching role, and he is excited about the challenge ahead with a talented young group.
“I am very pleased with the squad that we have put together to challenge for the NRC title this year,” says Scrivener. “I believe it is an excellent blend of youth and experience and has the potential to play a fast-paced, running game as well as being physical at the set-piece and difficult to contain. It’s great to see so many young players included who will no doubt use the NRC as a stepping stone in their careers.”
With previous skipper Tom Cusack taking a well-earned rest, loose forward Ben Hyne steps up into the captaincy role for the new campaign.
“Ben Hyne is an extremely talented footballer and will no doubt lead by example both on and off the field,” Scrivener enthused. “Ben is well respected amongst the playing group and has all the attributes that you could want in a leader.
“I am expecting this season to be a tough test for the players, there are no easy matches in this competition and the schedule is such that any slip-up could be detrimental to playing finals football. With one week’s preparation leading into the first round it is vital we get the players aligned with how we want to play as quickly as possible and focused on our first home game against Queensland Country.”
A nice mix of Super Rugby experience and aspiring talent from the local John I Dent Cup competition, the squad also includes Wallabies Rory Arnold and Blake Enever, as well as Tom Banks and Folau Fainga’a, who have both been named on the Australian bench for tomorrow night’s second Bledisloe clash against the All Blacks at Eden Park.
There’s a couple of names to look out for in Argentinean-born halfback Pedro Rolando, who was the top scorer in the John I Dent Cup this season. And one player out to prove himself again is Irae Simone, who recently signed for the Brumbies after precious little time in Super Rugby with the Waratahs. The gun centre ripped it up for the Sydney Stars as they made the semi-finals in 2016 before injury curtailed his opportunities last year. Expect fireworks.
The Vikings start their season with a grand final rematch against 2017 champions Queensland Country at Viking Park on Saturday 1st September, kick-off 5pm. And in terrific news for Vikings fans and all rugby supporters in Canberra, it has been announced that entry to all three home games and any potential home finals is free of charge.
“It is important to us that the local rugby community has access to a quality competition, and by allowing all spectators free entry in 2018 we hope that we can also play our part in growing the game,” explained Vikings Group CEO Anthony Hill.
“By not charging at the gate, we can instead hopefully gather some donations and raise much needed funds to go towards worthy causes like the current drought relief campaign and Vikings Group Charity of the Year Marymead, who we aim to raise $100,000 for this financial year.”
Video courtesy of Rugby AU
CANBERRA VIKINGS 2018 SQUAD
Jacob ABEL (Eastern Suburbs); Rory ARNOLD (Gungahlin Eagles); Tom BANKS (Uni-Norths Owls); Max BODE (Uni-Norths Owls); BJ EDWARDS (Gungahlin Eagles); Blake ENEVER (Eastern Suburbs); Folau FAINGA’A (Western Districts Lions); Vunipola FIFITA (West Harbour, NSW); Seth GOING (Canberra Royals); Mack HANSEN (Gungahlin Eagles); Wharenui HAWERA (Gungahlin Eagles); Ben HYNE (C) (Tuggeranong Vikings); Len IKITAU (Tuggeranong Vikings); Jordan JACKSON-HOPE (Tuggeranong Vikings); Luke KIMBER (Canberra Royals); Brodie LEBER (Western Districts Lions); Leslie LEULUAIALII-MAKIN (Queanbeyan Whites); Noah LOLESIO (Tuggeranong Vikings); Ryan LONERGAN (Tuggeranong Vikings); Josh MANN-REA (Gungahlin Eagles); Connal MCINERNEY (Easts, Sydney/Canberra Royals); Andy MUIRHEAD (Canberra Royals); Michael OAKMAN-HUNT (Tuggeranong Vikings); Chance PENI (Western Districts Lions); Pedro ROLANDO (Canberra Royals); Tom ROSS (Gungahlin Eagles); Irae SIMONE (Northern Suburbs, Sydney/TBC); Darcy SWAIN (Tuggeranong Vikings); Lausii TALIAULI (Canberra Royals); Sione TAULA (Tuggeranong Vikings); Mitch TYE (Western Districts Lions); Rob VALETINI (Western Districts Lions)