2018 JR Henderson Cup Grand Final: Warringah

All photos by Karen Watson

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Warringah 4th grade head coach Greg Lee takes us through his 25 man squad for today’s JR Henderson Cup grand final showdown…

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1.  JAMES SCOGNAMIGLIO: A latecomer into the side this season, but he is certainly no stranger to the Rats. Scogs has most definitely earnt his place in the frontrow and appears to have hit his peak at the perfect time, and will add excellent value to our set-piece. His first question when he arrives at training is ‘Are we doing scrums? The second is ‘What time are we wrapping things up? I reckon it’s because he wants to do some extras in the gym?

2. MARK JACKSON: A seasoned warhorse who epitomises the spirit of the flannel. This bloke never feels complete without a ball in his hand, and if he doesn’t have it he’ll go looking. Affectionately know as Wacko, his nickname does infer his preferred style of play. But he’s definitely the kind of bloke you want in the trenches with you come game day, because he’ll never take a backward step, and could inspire an Eskimo to do a nudie run.

3. DAVE HART: A battle-hardened veteran with years of experience applying the dark arts. He will love nothing more than anchoring the scrum this weekend. As one of the seasoned players in the team, Harty leads from the front on the field and off it. He has helped to keep the team grounded and inspired with his wry sense of humour. His opposite number can expect a few one-liners to get the sparks firing, and he is definitely a Warrior. But I’m still deciding if it’s on the field or behind a keyboard?

4. JACK WHEATLEY: ‘Wheats’ wouldn’t look out of place playing in the 70’s or 80’s. He is an old-school grafting lock with a massive engine, who isn’t interested in fancy moves or trick plays. He just focuses on getting the job done, and is certainly Mr Reliable when it comes to performance. If it’s not physical, he’s not interested – just like the Solo Man. Hopefully he keeps his 1970’s moustache for the Big Dance.

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5. TOM DONNAN: It’s only taken the season for his team mates to understand his lineout calls through his ever-present Gaelic brogue, but Tom does love a good lineout, scrum and carry. While he may not replicate the physical dimensions of Ireland’s former captain Paul O’Connell, he certainly plays and speaks like him. Tough, uncompromising, and hard to understand.

6. SEAN DAVIES: Sean is a smiling assassin. He’s a hard hitting, no-nonsense kind of footballer who looks at home either in the centres or the backrow. Many have underestimated his deft skills, and either fallen victim to a tackle or left diving in his wake. Many believe it’s his hairstyle that fools the opposition into a false sense of security, but his versatility will definitely be an asset this weekend.

7. KURTIS STARIHA: Kurtis is a quiet easy going bloke off the field – a little Clark Kent-esque. But put a Rats jersey on him and he’s a merciless enforcer, who happily seeks the collision zone as any good openside would.  His physicality makes the crowd wince, but his teammates smile, and has also seen him back up in the higher grades and not look out of place. He’s never satisfied unless he’s hurting people. He should have a bucket load of fun this weekend.

8. LUKE MILHAM (vc): A Warringah junior since he could walk and a Rat through and through, this kids bleeds green and white. He has been one of the leading forces in the team and can take a great deal of credit for the side’s defensive success. He’s a smart footballer with an ideal balance between brains and brawn, and can change a game without others realising it. He is the team’s human dynamo, and loves his presence to be felt from the change room to the field, and onto the after party. This kid is a game changer.

9. SAM REIMER (c): The quintessential scrum half who comes out of the same mould as George Gregan and Ken Catchpole – fast, skilful, crafty and tough. Sam has led this team from the start, and his weekly contribution has been a hallmark of it’s success. A fierce competitor, Sam has helped to drive the standards and keep them high throughout the season. He had a lot to prove this year, and nobody would argue with what he has achieved so far. His courage and inspiration have been a driving force, and I know he is pumped to lead this group of fine men into the last game of the 2018 season.

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10. TOM McBRYDE: Tom is an unorthodox flyhalf with a cool head for pressure. Nothing seems to faze him, yet he treats each phase like he’s riding an eight-footer off Whale Beach Wedge and just goes for it. He plays at 10 with a large degree of unpredictability, so much so that sometimes he doesn’t even know what he’s going to do until he does it. He always seems to deliver, yet the only thing predictable about his play is his unpredictability.

11. MAX JONES: Every side needs a Max Jones, a mercurial ball runner with speed balance and aggression, and the ability to lift the crowd to their feet with his scintillating style of play. He works hard with the ball in hand, and even harder off the ball to ensure the team remains in a strong attacking position. He’s no novice when it comes to grand finals, and his experience and leadership will be vital this weekend. Rest assured if he doesn’t bag a meat pie or two himself, he definitely would have had his fingers in a few.

12. JORDAN MEREDITH: Everyone thought Jordie was done for the season after a horrific injury, but like a phoenix from the ashes he came back bigger and stronger, and we’re glad to have him on board. This bloke is a wrecking ball with eyes – he’s either a coach’s dream or his nightmare, depending if he’s on your side or not. Thankfully, we can keep dreaming because he is the most unassuming player with skills that never cease to amaze. There’s something quite mesmerising about his play, and he is definitely one to watch.

13. HARRY McBRYDE: He is the firebrand of the McBryde brothers – literally – because he’s the one with the bright red hair. But he’s also a firebrand when it comes to winning. Harry is a true competitor and has the skills and speed to back it up. Another player who is unassuming in stature, but is one of the team’s most ferocious defenders and creative attacking runners. Keep an eye on this bloke and you’ll be entertained.

14. JAMES MUIR: A solid ball of muscle, this pocket rocket learnt his trade in the land of the long white cloud, which instantaneously brings creditability. He was touted as the ‘human bonus point’ by the Rats Shute Shield Head Coach Darren Coleman, after bagging five tries in one of the regular round games. Jimmy is another seasoned campaigner with tonnes of experience, and can sniff out a try like a little truffle terrier. He will certainly be looking to cross the chalk more than once this weekend.

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15. SAM EVANS: Having coached Sam in colts, the first time I saw him with ball in hand he reminded me of a young Stephen Larkham. The way he runs, passes and reads the game is quite unique. He is a very skilful player with the ability to play 9, 10 and 15, which he has done. But he has proven most effective and dangerous out the back, where he can see everything and is calling the shots while ghosting from side to side like a falcon waiting for the right time to strike. Make no mistake, if a try is scored, it’s likely to have his fingerprints on the play somewhere.

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Replacements:

16. ALEXANDRE ALVES: You’ve all heard of the Honey Badger, well meet the Brazilian Badger. We’re not sure what the Brazilian ladies think, but he’s been a hit while he has been in Sydney. He’s a tenacious, stocky, hard-nosed forward with enormous leg drive and an insatiable appetite for ball carrying and tackling. He is clearly one that loves churrasco cooking. We rely on his punch and go-forward often in the second half, and when he hits the field the energy and intensity always rises a few notches.

17. CONNOR MILHAM: Another player that epitomise the selfless Rats’ brotherhood, and has always maintained a team first attitude. He is an exemplary example of the modern day hooker. Connor ticks all the boxes required for set-piece, but also offers the skill-set of a wily backrower, which provides the team with greater influence at the breakdown and different attacking options off the edge of the ruck. He loves nothing more than pilfering for balls and carrying into contact.

18. PAT LA TORACCA: A powerhouse forward who can literally cover every row in the scrum, and his versatility provides the luxury of choice as to where the power is most needed. He’s probably the strongest forward in the team, squatting well over 200kg, and I’m pretty confident he deadlifts more.  But the great thing is he can translate his strength, speed and power onto the field. Jake the Muss couldn’t claim he was right – with “too much weights, not enough speed work”. He has both!

19. MATT DAVIES: Despite his youthful looks, Matt carries a lot of playing experience into this game. Similar to his brother, Matt is an accomplished backrower and centre, and happily wreaks havoc around the fringes of the rucks or through the midfield. He has an extremely high work rate both on and off the field, and never shies away from getting physical. In fact, he complains if he thinks he doesn’t get any.

4_Jack Wheatley and 16_Alex Alvarez

Jack Wheatley and Alexandre ‘Brazilian Badger’ Alves – Photo: Karen Watson

20. BRYCE RENEMAN: If he carried an extra 20kg he’d be playing 1st grade. One of the most accurate defenders in the team, Bryce is no stranger to cutting down tall timber, in fact he enjoys the challenge and he rarely misses his target. What makes him so unique is his speed back to his feet and around the park. He has an incredible work rate, with an equally impressive turnover rate. Given some space to move and he’ll show you some pretty handy wheels, because he’s a former winger.

21. JAMES NORRISH: Nosh is like the Quade Cooper of the side – unique and his own man – despite being a forward. He has an x-factor that you can’t quite put your finger on. Nosh is somewhat unpredictable, but is a powerful ball runner and has the grunt and hard edge to turn situations from lemons into lemonade. Defensively he’s no slouch either, and will always empty his tank.

22 JAKE RENEMAN: Jake was the No.1 choice lock for the first six rounds until an injury sidelined him for a big chunk of the season. He was determined to fight his way back into the squad despite the stiff competition. The Renemans are built wrangly but punch well above their weight, and Jake fears nothing that is human. Like his team contemporaries, he is prepared to get his hands dirty and get the tight work done, regardless of what it is.

23. DAVE SMERDON: His reputation precedes him, and he is another impact player who can successfully fill four positions in the backline depending on what is needed at the time. If not for his academic commitments, he’d be playing up the top, because this bloke reeks of quality and has a running game that’s the envy of players with many more years experience. Dave’s understanding of the game and his instinctive prowess makes him one of our biggest assets off the bench. Watch this space!

24. RICHIE MUNCHOW: A former NRL Holden Cup player, Richie has had a sporadic season with a number of injuries keeping him sidelined early on. But he has come back with a vengeance, and was instrumental during the team’s preliminary and semi-final assault, with a beautiful length of the field try against the Two Blues, and on the end of a slick backline movement against Uni. We’re lucky this is the final game of the season, because I don’t think we would have been able to keep him much longer.

25. JOSH GERRARD: A charismatic, effervescent veteran with plenty of silk still left in his skills, and yet another man of impact with the versatility of being able to slot in anywhere along the backline from 10 to 15. Well renowned for his voice-over work at Rat Park during 1st grade, ‘Gez’ talks a big game and often plays a bigger one. His experience and deft ability to spot a gap has got the team over the line on numerous occasions, and he is well known for the sneaky intercept. The man can turn a game!

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