2020 Colin Caird Shield GF: Meet the Teams – Eastern Suburbs

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Eastern Suburbs 2nd Grade captain Nathan Brennan takes us through his matchday squad for Saturday’s Colin Caird Shield grand final showdown against Sydney University…

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All photos by SPA Images

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1. JAMES KING: James really is the King of the front row! Extremely versatile slipping into any position from 1-3. These skills saw him receive a promotion to 1st Grade during the season, but we are excited to have him back. A true veteran, going into battle for his third consecutive 2nd Grade grand final. He heads off to the US after this season, so we are hoping we send him off on a high.

2. ANDREW SMYTH: Andy arrived in Australia pre-COVID, and thank God he’s stuck here. Being Irish, lineouts aren’t the only thing he’s good at throwing. With the blistering Australian heat, he has been known to have the skill for throwing down an ice-cold Guinness or Kilkenny at any Irish pub in Sydney. An exceptionally fit hooker, he has been a fundamental part of the front row, providing great ball at the lineout and a strong work rate around the park.

3. SHANE BYRNE: After seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the ‘Lobster’ made the best decision of his life and moved from the Wicks to the Beasties. Lobster is no ordinary character, earning his claim to fame starring in (read: in the background) of an episode of Game of Thrones. Luckily for us his scrummaging skills significantly outplay his acting skills.

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4. NATHAN BRENNAN (c): Once described by the Channel 7 commentary team as ‘a great lump of a lad’, Brenno is a workhorse who leads by example. A member of the 2019 team, he will be aiming to go one better this year.

5. WILL NICHOLLS: Nicholls comes from a line of prodigy sons (one of which is the coach) at the Beasties. So far, he has been living up to the honourable reputation this season, which includes a fiery temper as also demonstrated by his Uncle, when we aren’t performing well at half-time. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Part of the 2019 grand final team, Nicholls is brilliant in the air and gives his heart and soul in every encounter.

6. JAMES DONATO: There’s one in every team, a bloke that laughs at his own lame jokes and is your typical serial pest. That’s our beloved Jimmy. After spending time on the sidelines for all the wrong reasons, we’re glad to have Jimmy back. He has been an outstanding member of the team in 2020. Carrying well above his weight and with hands as good as his twin brother Dan (fullback in 1st grade), he also spent time playing alongside him in 1st Grade this season.

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7. DONNY FREEMAN: Donny is still eligible to be playing with his mates in the colts game before us, but thankfully he’s stuck with us now. Built like a mini-Thor, with luxurious locks and a beard to match, Donny is a powerful, explosive backrower, who puts his body on the line. Every. Single. Play. Bright future ahead.

8. SAM CALLOW: Callow is a prime example of the saying – ‘they breed them tough in the country’. He’ll be hitting hard all day this weekend and not hesitating to put his head down and run hard at every opportunity. He’ll be looking forward to a cold beer after the game.

9. ANGUS FOWLER: If you are ever after any advice on the punt, Fowler is your man. A member of the 2019 team, Fowler will be putting his money on the red, white and blue this weekend. Reads the game well and has a great pass.

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10. NICHOLAS SHANNON: Shannon has found exceptional form through this season, building his confidence with each match. His kicking game has gone from strength to strength in particular, and he has evolved into an excellent director of play on the field.

11. BLAKE RIXON: In his first season out of colts, Ricko has certainly not looked out of place in grade. Lightning speed, brilliant skills, a huge boot and lots of aggression, Ricko will be one to watch out for in the future.

12. MAX PATTERSON: Patto has really stepped up to the challenge and has demonstrated what he is capable of in the past couple of weeks. An exciting player with plenty of talent who will be looking to get the job done on the weekend.

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13. JOHN JULIAN: Fondly known as ‘Baz’, this man is as solid as a rock in D, and will be looking to make a statement to the opposition this weekend. If you are contemplating running an under’s line, it would be a wise decision to think again.

14. WILL PATERSON: ‘Patto’s miraculous return to form – from an unlucky, injury ridden start to the season – has not gone unnoticed. He flies down the sideline and is expansive in his running game, and has the x-factor and a great vision for the game that other blokes can only dream of. A tragic Roosters fan, let’s hope we take it all the way, unlike their 2020 season.

15. WILL MADDOCKS: Maddocks’ exceptional speed, agility and hands landed him a place on the Australian Sevens squad in 2020. Unfortunately, once again COVID intervened, but we were stoked to have him back on home soil. A member of the 2019 team, you won’t have to look far to spot the well-dressed young chap – a strict game day uniform of track pants, Easts junior jersey (a true club stalwart) and shoes, optional.

Replacements (rest to be confirmed):

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ARCHER GAVIN: Archie is extremely versatile, the rare species of player than can play both in the forwards and the backs, with great skill. It’s no surprise considering the stock he comes from, as the son of Tim Gavin he represents the name proudly. Dangerous in attack, ruthless in defence, and always brings plenty of energy to the field.

SAM FOGARTY: ‘Fogs’ has played a large part of his season with 1st Grade, but an unfortunate run with injury has seen him sidelined. We are thrilled to welcome him back to the fold, giving him the opportunity to amend last year’s GF result with the boys. Lethal on the attack, speed to burn, but don’t think you can run past him in opposition.

HARRY DOYLE: Doylie has done a fantastic job of bringing the energy late in the game. Like a whippet, he eats up metres, slicing through tired defenders and always threatening late in the halves. Hard work has resulted in a well-deserved promotion through the grades this season.

Special mentions:

DAN HOWES: Howsie has been an excellent member of the team throughout the season. Eats the advantage line for breakfast, knocks blokes into next week, and is a well-respected leader amongst the boys. It was a huge loss to the team when he broke his thumb in the first round of the finals. Let’s hope the rumours he could make a shock return this weekend are true.

AGUSTIN ESCALONA: ‘Augie’, our fearless Argentinean, sustained a fractured hand in the final round game this season, a devastating loss to the team. We think we’ve convinced him to hang around for another season or two yet thankfully. His aerial skills are as smooth as his words, he’s inventive with his lineout names (‘popcorn’ a particularly memorable one), and he will be sorely missed on Saturday.

GEORGE CORIAS: Corias was one of our form forwards for the first half of this season. Unfortunately, repeated injuries have held him back from his full potential. We have no doubts that he will be back stronger and fitter than ever in 2021.

JORDAN HEYER: If only things went as smoothly during his 2020 season as they do off the field. An extremely smooth talker who offers coaching to the coaches, we sorely missed Jordy throughout the majority of the season due to injuries. Watch this space next season.

JOE PINCUS: Pincus’s skills saw him recognised and selected for the Australian Sevens squad. Just transitioning back to 15-a-side, he was looking unbelievable – agile, and a weapon in attack. Unfortunately, the year of COVID-19 had other plans, including a horrible ankle injury. We wish him all the best in his recovery and are looking forward to seeing him back on the professional scene soon.

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