2018 Colin Caird Shield Grand Final: Eastern Suburbs

All photos by SPA Images


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Eastern Suburbs 2nd grade head coach Ben Staunton takes us through his 23 man squad for today’s Colin Caird Shield grand final showdown…



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1. JAMES KING: After having a bad break at the start of the season, Kingy has worked hard to get back to full fitness before the end of the year. He has been a welcome addition to the squad since returning to play. A true nugget of a player who is gives his all and wants to improve.

2. DYLAN WOODS: Full of energy, great footwork, a quick and fully committed player who gives 100% every time he plays for Easts. Since watching Dylan develop at Scots College, he just impresses me as a player and as an individual. Has had a good season with making his 1st XV debut, and has become a strong leader and a potential captain of the future.

3. ARCHIE HALL: ‘Sheep Head’ as is he known is a strong scrummer, but it has been a frustrating season for him after suffering a broken foot during pre-season. Since his return the scrum has become stronger, and it’s added another ball-carrier through the middle. His simple ways brings much laughter to the group.

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4. DAN HOWES: One of the nicest guys you could meet, but turns into a strong ball-carrying forward who will do the hard yards in a tough situation. Dan started the season bashing people who ran down his channel, and after a mid-season injury has started to get back to that level.

5. EMERSON ADCOCK: Emerson is a mobile footballer that has all the abilities to make a difference in a big game. His footwork pre-contact and the power to get through a gap could be a game changer. Worked hard to get fit after a couple of annoying injuries, but this player has huge potential to play at a high level in the future.

6. TOBY STARKEY: Known as the ‘Postman’ or the ‘Dustman’, he is a guy who you want and need in every side. He is the player who happily enjoys cleaning up all the scraps and tidying the rubbish, and turning it into something positive for the team. Toby is a true team man, and is an important member of the group.

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7. TOM MAHONY: Smart and always has a question to ask during every situation of the game. Really showed how important he was to the side when he went away on holiday during the first round of finals! Tom will be the key to slowing Eastwood ball down and stealing ball for us.

8. SAM STITCHER (c): The senior man of the team, whose calm voice and experience is so important for us. With so many young guns in the forwards, his knowledge and understanding of the game is the key to this weekend, but also in shaping many players for the future. Really stepped up last weekend against Uni by getting into key areas to shut down attacks.

9. TED PYE: Our ball running no.9, with a razor sharp pass that nearly knocks flyhalf Cohan Guerra over at times. Ted is so hard to handle when he is in full flight as he is so physical and quick. Be aware of him around the fringes as he will take every opportunity. Has a good, long kicking game in the bag, which is under-used at times. If he makes his mark on the game, it will allow Cohan and co. to get on the front foot and play the style of footy we want to play.

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10. COHAN GUERRA: He is the heartbeat of the side with his energy and his demands of the team. Always looking for the positive and attacking options to play, Cohan punches above his weight and can’t resist a ball carry as he throws a number of dummies. Cohan is the brains of the team and will marshal the boys around the field.

11. CHARLIE CLIFTON: A true clubman, he has been with us since he arrived in Colts. He developed into a 1st grader for a number of years, and then played in the NRC with the Eagles. Charlie was club captain, which shows what the people and the club think of him, and the person he is. This season has been a new challenge for him with so many things going on outside of the sport, and his never wanting to let the club or team down. He is a strong character and a strong ball runner, and I’m excited to see him cause damage at North Sydney Oval on Saturday.

12. DAN ENGLAND: What a great young player who is still learning so much about his game. When he is on then I think he is the stand out 12 in the competition and should be playing a higher level, and I don’t mean 1st XV! Has a wide range of skills and the boys call him the ‘prop’, but he is way quicker than you think. Excited to see how he goes this weekend.

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13. SAM FOGARTY: The midfield wrecking ball that has a step to leave people set in concrete, and rooted to the ground. ‘Foggers’ is a strong person in a physical nature, and more importantly mentally, as he wants to set high standards and wants to play at the next level. His partnership with Dan is a perfect combination as he brings out an edge in his team mate, and Dan is a calming influence on him. Looking forward to seeing the midfield battle.

14. TOM MERRIT: The racehorse that glides down the sideline with little effort, and can change direction in a split second. Having Tom back with the club this season shows what sort of character he is, and his connection with the club. It could have been easy for him to stay away with work and then have to come back up through the grades, but he rightfully earns his spot. I hope we can get the ball to him in space or he comes looking for it, and I hope he remembers to strap it in this weekend!

15. WILL MADDOCKS: I was looking forward to seeing this young man back on the field following a shoulder reconstruction, after he burst on to the scene last season in 1st Grade. Will has been in free-scoring mode since finding his feet again – I believe the 46 points against Parra helped him. Will is a certain game-changer with his running game and also his kicking game. Can easily kick off both feet out of hand, and is a wonderful goal kicker. From a strong rugby family with one of his brothers playing for the Beasties 1st team last year, and the Wallabies this season. I know Jack and the rest of the rugby mad Maddocks family will be there in full support!


16. LINDSEY STEVENS: The Canadian blonde bombshell has come back to Easts after playing in the USA. Lindsey is a tough, on the ball player, who always competes and raises his game when challenged. Did play a number of 1st grade games last season, but injury slowed his return this year. Will make an impact when required, and it will be hard to miss him with his blonde mullet!

17. JAMES BEHRINGER: ‘Bez’ is a man-mountain, and will be easy to spot when he runs out on Saturday. The big man came to his senses to get back into rugby after pre-season training was done – some would say that was smart from him. This young player could develop into something special in the future. He misses out to James King due to a week off after seeing to many yellows, but he will make a massive a impact when he comes off the bench.

18. ANDI LAWRENCE: The wise man who sits in the corner stoking his long beard and passing on his knowledge to the young props. The mid-season move from Perth benefited the Easts set-up, and I believe his years of experience will aid the group in staying focused and humble, and to keep working and believing. Will assess the game from the bench and will be a positive influence off the bench when required.

19. LACHLAN PIGGOTT: ‘Pig’ is a mature and calming influence on the side. He would never back down in any situation, and leads from the front by stepping up to the challenge. His strong Joey’s background to step up to the mark and deliver under pressure is one of his strength, as well as having good footwork pre-contact, and a work rate to compete in every situation. Pig played a number of 1st grade games over the last couple of seasons, and is another true clubman who came through the Colts programme.

20. JAMES DONATO: ‘Oddjob’ is a ball of energy, and has made a massive impact off the bench everytime he plays. A strong ball-runner with great footwork to break through a line, but has the speed to make that line break count. His work rate is off the scale, and I don’t know how he does it by playing rugby league on Sundays as well.

21. JAYDEN WRIGHT: A player who has developed the most in the club for mine, as he is really starting to hone his skills. The ‘Matt Barlow’ project is fully working, and ‘Mini’ can cover a number of positions. But more importantly, he can change the game with his positive style of footy, and the willingness to attack with good footwork and movement of the ball. Keep an eye on him or he will be gone within a flash.

22. DAN DONATO: Dan is a seriously skilful footballer and he has covered a number of roles across the grades. Dan can develop into a balanced footballer as he has good footwork, can pass off either hand and can kick of both feet. Like his brother he can open up a game with his skill and eagerness to win a game. He will always be trying until the end of the game.

23. NICK HEDLEY: Nick is the pocket rocket of the midfield. He is so hard to put down when he is carrying the ball, and always seems to get over the gain line. His speed into contact is something I admire.

24. MAX WELBORN: Max is a project that we have only just seen the start of, as he has so much ability, power and can seriously move as an athlete – especially in the air! It has been a hard call to leave him out of the starting team, but he is someone to watch over the next couple of years. This young man has some talent, but he is only just starting to realise it.

Other players who have made a massive impact in helping the 2nds finish as Minor Premiers over the season, are a mixture of guys who represented the club at 1st XV, and sadly some players who picked up injuries: Luke Jones, Joel Duffy, James Fields, Clarrie Moore, Marc Le, Patto Brothers, Josh Tomms, Jean Charles, Matt Hooper, Liam Moylan, Soane Naufahu, Rhys Corbishley, John Julian, Dean M-Hunt, Jack Nettleton.

I’d also like to thank all the coaches – Matthew Barlow, Pauli Taumoepeau, Gareth Morton, Pete Playford, Jacob Curran, Adam Elford, Elliot Fawley, Steve Shapman, Andrew Blades and Rhys Ward and managers Graham Boyle, Ian Cohen, Scott Stevens, Darcy Bray, Gary Walsh, Tim Stewart and Marcus Cullen. Also the medical staff in Ross, Campbell and Ben our Doctor, as well as the S&C guidance from Dan Bradly, Omar and Ben. It’s a group challenge and it’s been a good year for the club, and that’s down to all the work the players and coaches have put in. I’m so grateful for the help, I just hope they get an added reward for their efforts on Saturday.

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