2019 JR Henderson Shield Grand Final: Gordon

Gordon’s 3rd grade head coach Tony Dempsey takes us through his starting XV for Saturday’s JR Henderson Shield grand final showdown against Sydney University…


1. ROB LACINSKI: Big Rob, sometimes known as ‘Chinski’, is a backrower that is trapped in a front-rowers body. He gets around the field with ease, and is seemingly involved in everything – all while holding his own at scrum time. Robbie has a big future with Gordon, just ask him.

2. DANIEL LOMBARDI: The boy from Wollongong has been a revelation for the Highlanders in his first season of grade this year. His abrasive style of play has added some real starch to the forward pack. ‘Lombo’ always hits the advantage line with ball in hand, and rattles off hit after hit in defence to make his presence felt. This is a guy who no doubt will be one to watch in the higher grades in the years to come.

3. HUGH CROPLEY: As long as scrums remain a part of rugby, there will always be a mortgage on the #3 jersey for the veteran they call ‘Croppers’. It’s not uncommon to see Cropley debriefing with the scrum coach up to 20 minutes after the last scrum at training. Apparently, this has nothing to do with his disinterest for conditioning, it rather illustrates his passion for the dark arts. As one of the elder statesman in the side, Croppers’ leadership has been invaluable for the young front-rowers this season that he’ll be packing down alongside in the Grand Final.

4. ANDREW CHAPMAN (c): The captain. Our fearless leader’s experience has been a big part of the success that the team has had this season. ‘Chappo’ is so experienced, that when he played his last Grand Final for Gordon in Colts, many of his current teammates were still learning to tie their shoelaces in primary school. ‘Chappo’ is Mr Reliable, preferring to allow the players around him to shine by getting in and taking care of those tough carries first. When he talks, the rest of the team listens and in the big moments during the GF his teammates will be looking his way for inspiration.

5. NICK BROWN: ‘Brownie’ may be the youngest member of the forward pack, but he also happens to be the biggest. He always falls forwards in contact, and the impact that he has provided our forward pack over the last few weeks has been immeasurable. A quiet, yet hard working player, who has some big goals for the future that we all can’t wait to see him achieve.

6. BRETT VAN ZYL: Brett just loves rugby. And we at Gordon all certainly love sharing the field with Brett. There have been many occasions this season where he has put the team on his back in a close contest with a tackle busting run or clutch turnover. When you look to your side and see your South African team mate, you are always completely confident in him doing his job, and more than likely doing your job while he’s at it too. Blessed with pace, power, and rugby nous, ‘Brettie’ is a true workhorse and certainly not your typical 3rd Grade footballer.

7. LACHIE ARCHER: Lachie is a player who has come a long way this season. His speed and work rate around the field is the perfect compliment to our big tight-five, and he’s always good for two or three steals at the breakdown every game. Despite being only a little fella, he loves carrying the ball towards blokes way bigger than him, and it’s this sort of attitude that is why the rest of the team loves playing with him. After 17 weeks of white line fever it was a huge relief for Archer to finally cross the try-line in the final round, which unfortunately ended an entertaining narrative for the rest of the team.

8. JAHMIN GERNHOEFER: Jah joined the stags from Brisbane this year and has settled seamlessly into the club. He is an outgoing character who loves his presence to be felt in the change room, out on the field, and certainly once the full-time whistle has blown as well. Jah has been a key cog in the 3rd Grade machine this year, playing every game for the team and being one of the best performers each and every week.

9. KYLE BROWN: The second of the Brown twins, Kyle has been influential for 3rd Grade this year with his crisp passing and massive boot. He has found some serious form at the right end of the year off the kicking tee, which has been vital in applying scoreboard pressure to the opposition in tight contests. Kyle’s running game has also gone to another level this season, his constant snipes from the ruck base have not only been damaging but kept the defence on guard, which opens up space for our other ball runners.

10. JARROD DOWIE: JD is not your typical flyhalf. He loves running the ball into contact, and is arguably our strongest player over the ball when an isolated ball runner comes near. Dowie is an extremely confident player, and loves taking calculated risks in open play and backing his skillset. JD’s game management has been a feature all season, and will be key to Gordon bringing home the chocolates in the big dance.

11. MATT McDOUGALL: This man has tartan running through his veins. A club legend and speedster on the field, ‘Doogs’ has been instilling in the younger players just what playing for this club means. While he may have lost a step and take a bit longer to recover from games than before, his leadership and performances this year are an integral part of the success that the squad has had.

12. JOHNATHAN TEVITA: Johnny has been outstanding in the midfield for us this season. Able to play anywhere in the backline, he has been a real asset to the team this year. Johnny loves a hit-up and is lethal from broken play. He also loves talking about how he is best mates with Ardie Savea, and was all too happy to miss a few games early in the season to attend his wedding.

13. JOSH TUPUOLA: Josh has had quite the journey in 2019. A highly-rated recruit to the club, he devastatingly tore his ACL in pre-season and that looked to be the end of his year. Amazingly, he was able to rehab the knee and has come back in the second half of the season with a vengeance. His class is obvious, and his inclusion in the centres has not only stiffened the defence, but provided us with extra firepower in attack.

14. JOSEFA CAUCAU: Big, strong and with blinding pace, it’s no surprise that ‘Super Sefa’ was the leading try-scorer for the 3rd Grade side this season. However, it was his defence that really shone through in the semi final last week, with a number of bone-crunching hits and excellent reads thwarting the opposition whenever they tried to shift wide. Sefa possesses genuine x-factor, and it’s always part of the game plan to make sure he gets loads of opportunities with the ball.

15. SCOTT PURSELL: ‘Scooter’ has been a late inclusion to the side for the injured Sam Frankham, and certainly brings plenty to the table. He has one of the biggest boots in the club and is very physical in contact, both characteristics that suit finals football. Interestingly, Scooter decided to plan his wedding for the first weekend of the years finals series, perhaps underestimating the potential of our side. Nonetheless, Scotty will be looking to make up for lost time in the real ‘big dance’.


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