2019 JR Henderson Cup Grand Final: Eastwood
Eastwood’s 4th Grade head coach Chris ‘Bus’ Hala, takes us through his 26 man squad for Saturday’s JR Henderson Cup grand final showdown against Sydney University…
All photos: Serge Gonzalez
1. VIDAR TUPOU: Like most Polynesian boys, ‘Vidar’ is very quiet and respectful. However, on the field he is a damaging runner, powerful scrummager, and a strong defender who will cut your legs from under you if you dare to run straight at him. He will be looking to break the line at every chance he gets, and his offloads in contact will hopefully put the opposition on the back foot. He’s come in to some very good form, and will want to finish the year on a high.
2. DANIEL HARVEY: A hard-nosed young buck who really likes to play on the edge and get in opposition faces. Definitely a player who would have suited playing in the 80’s just like his old man ‘Hitman’ Harvey, who also played for the Woods. Will keep the opposition honest around the rucks, and his strong carries will be crucial if we are to gain the upper hand. ‘Harvey’ does have a soft side where he will like to feed the opposition grass if given the opportunity.
3. ALEX PAPPALARDO: Had a long enforced pre-season for an altercation he lost with a barmaid, and became available back in Round 8. He has been getting better with each game and is growing in confidence. He’s his own worst critic, which keeps him honest as he looks to higher honours. ‘Papa’ will carry strongly and look to put the opposition scrum under pressure. Will fight until he’s got nothing left in the tank.
4. TOM ALEXANDER (c): The leader of our team, ‘TA’ has done it all. A big game player who has played and won on the big stage. He will definitely lead from the front with strong carries and unrelenting defence. The old dog is slowly coming to the end on what has been an incredible rugby career, and will be looking to lead our team to victory.
5. TOM PEACOCK: First year out of colts and one of our workhorses, who plays well beyond his years and appears to be getting better and better with each game. ‘Peacock’ or ‘Cock’ is always in the thick of the action whether on defence or attack. Will carry hard all day and be first up in the line to make a tackle. Definitely will be a future leader of our club, and will give it his all come game day.
6. TOM ROBSON: Also in his first year out of colts, ‘Robbo’ was quick out of the blocks early in the season. His form dipped after an injury, which he has now recovered from and has clearly been one of our best players all year, just missing out on the MVP. ‘Robbo’ is a workhorse, who works hard all day around the field. He’s strong in our lineouts, and has speed to burn when needed.
7. NICK REID: ‘Reidy’ – a tackling machine who puts his head in very dark places, and will go all game. He will well and truly empty the tank I tell you, he has plenty in reserve. ‘Reidy’ always seems to be where the ball is and will bleed for this team, which he has done on many previous occasions. When we’re in the trenches and under fire, he will be one of the soldiers who will fight with everything to find a way out.
8. ROHHAN ZEBIB: Lebanese sausage who joined our team late in the piece, applying his trade in the USA before returning to the Woods. With his legs all shaved and oiled up, ‘Zebib’ is an athletic player who works very hard with his carries and when on defence. Will ask questions of the opposition as he’s a very good player in close, and if you’re not watching, he will be off before you know it.
9. LOUIS HEATON: Like all typical halfbacks, ‘Louie’ is a bit of a smart arse and will push your buttons. But that’s what you need from your half when marshalling your forwards and backs around the field. Also a colt from last season, Louie has had a good season playing in the higher grades, which will be valuable experience going in to this game. He will look to snipe when the chance will present itself, and will annoy the hell out of the opposition.
10. SAM CALE (vc): Our Player’s Player, who has led our team for the majority of the year, and is one of the main reasons why we are one game away from a championship. His leadership and game management will be crucial again on Saturday, and he will look to put us in the right parts of the field to apply and build pressure. His goal-kicking percentage is the best in the club, and he will look to assert himself all game. ‘Sammy’ will be the difference if we are to be successful.
11. MARCUS CREAIS: One of the jokers of our team, ‘Cous’ cannot catch a ball at training to save his life, but is 100 percent reliable when he runs out on the park. 60kgs ringing wet, but he plays well above his weight and has been a rock for us on defence. He will test the opposition with his speed and agility, and will look to carry on the good form he has been building over the last few weeks. A game-breaker who will be looking forward to getting out there on Saturday.
12. JACK WHITTAKER: ‘Mr Punctuality’ himself. Always late, and always good for a whinge. Wouldn’t expect ‘Witts’ to be our MVP, but he has been great for us this season. We are a different beast when he runs hard and direct, and his defence has been strong all year. In my opinion he formed the best centre pairing in the competition with Brad Meehan before Brad got injured. If ‘Witts’ can get dominance in the middle of the park, a lot of points should flow from his strong carries. Will look to bend their defensive line so that our outside backs can dominate on the fringes.
13. MICK TAMONE: ‘Micky’ has been playing great rugby all year, and was rewarded with a number of games in the higher grades. He brings game smarts and is a very good player. He will run all day, will test their defence with his strong running lines, and will defend and chase all day. Also one our leaders who brings calm and steadiness when the going gets tough.
14. NICK O’CONNOR: ‘Occa’ is our most potent weapon on the wing. Has blinding speed and x-factor to really open the game up. He always goes looking for work and will keep defensive lines honest, especially around the rucks. Has really come into form over the last few weeks, and is really enjoying his rugby. His confidence going into Saturday is a clear warning to the opposition that he is ready to play.
15. JACOB HARRINGTON: ‘Harro’ can do everything. He runs hard and fast, and his defence is outstanding. Also a colt from last year, he has taken his opportunities and has also played in the higher grades. Definitely a future 1st Grader, he is the joint-top try-scorer with Mick Tamone, and will be looking to add to his try tally. He will marshal our lads from behind on defence, and will look for mismatches to exploit when the opportunities present themselves in attack.
16. ALEX MAGUIRE: ‘Maggy’ – Old legs has come in to some form of late, which is a good sign for our team. His experience and leadership gives a calmness to the guys around him when he’s on or off the field, which will be needed in the closing stages if the game is tight. He’s only got a few more years in him, and will put everything on the line come Saturday when he gets on the field.
17. SIONE TANGI: ‘Tangi’ (or Saucissy) has been suffering from softness all year. On the field he’s laughing all game if there’s a bit of banter with the opposition, but that’s where the softness stops. He’s a hard running forward who loves the contact stuff and is very dynamic, either creating breaks from strong carries or running good lines finding himself in space. For a big Poly boy he has a big motor, and will run hard and defend strongly when he’s on the field.
18. DAN MINTO: ‘Minto’ – Eastwood Clubman who’s knowledge and experience will prove crucial in the tight moments. He will look to impose himself come scrum time, and his talk around the field will be pivotal in rallying his team mates to keep pushing forward and working hard.
19. JOSH HARRIS: One thing about ‘Joshy’ is that he will carry all day. One of our more experienced players who has been here before, and will look to impose himself on the game. He will carry strongly, and will be crucial on the back of our scrum if we are to assume any dominance.
20. SAM MARTIN: ‘Sam Bob’ has not had many opportunities this year, with injuries having slowed his momentum. Has had to come off the bench mostly, and has delivered strongly when called upon. Runs strong and hard, and will jam in defence to make the big tackles putting his body on the line.
21. JOEL EDWARDS: ‘Joely’ is another player with speed to burn, but it’s been trial and error this year for another colt who’s found it difficult to find a position he’s comfortable in. A very versatile player who can play openside, and also most positions in the back line. He’s been very good for us on the wing, but I don’t think that would be his strongest position. Will add energy when he comes on, and will take off if given any space by the opposition.
22. LUKE CASEY: ‘Casey’ – the male model of our team. More likely to turn up to training in Ugg boots, and sporting a tight shirt which is definitely a couple sizes to small. But he’s a player who has plenty of gas to burn, and reads the game very well. Has been injured for most of the season but seems to have timed his return well, and will look to challenge all high balls or kick-offs as he is very good in the air. In space he would be hard to catch, and is also a very good defender.
23. MARK FROST: ‘Frosty’ – another seasoned campaigner whose experience will be crucial this Saturday. Also running on old legs, ‘Frosty’ will give you the best 20 minutes he’s got, and it will be all quality, especially as he still runs good lines and makes breaks with ease. His big match experience will help us get over the line if the game is on the line.
24. LUKE GRIMA: ‘Grimes’ is another player who hasn’t had much opportunity this year, but will look to finish the year off well. A very skilful player who will back up and support all day, his kicking game off the bench will be great when keeping the opposition pinned in their half. Seems to find himself in space more often than not, and will look to finish off any opportunities that arise.
25. DAN GILBERT: ‘Gilbert’ is not one to complain and is a very nice guy. Has been a bit hot and cold this year, but damn when he’s in the mood and wants to play, he’s close to our best player. He’s strong and he’s fit, and if he’s mentally on will be very dangerous.
26. JACK CALE: ‘The Sniper’ has probably been our surprise packet of the season. Again another colt plying his trade in grade for the first time this season, and has had to be very patient to get his opportunity. Didn’t really settle on a position until filling in at fullback several weeks ago, and wow. He has great vision and a good kicking game, and is also a good runner of the ball who always pops on support lines when a break is made. What he lacks in size he makes up for in heart, and has been a strong last line of defence when teams have managed to break through. Will add much-needed spark when he gets his chance.