2016 NRC: How the reshuffled NSW sides might look

RAMS-NRC-first-game-image-Jai-Ayoub

Although we’re still smack bang in the middle of Club season, the NRC isn’t too far away and it’s shaping up to be one of the most intriguing seasons yet following a reshuffle of the NSW franchises.

Although next to nothing has been officially announced by the ARU yet, it’s understood the competition will drop to eight teams in 2016 with the NSW Country Eagles and the Sydney Stars set to merge, bringing NSW Country, Sydney Uni, Randwick and Eastern Suburbs together under the ‘Country Eagles’ banner.

Elsewhere, Sydney’s southern most club Southern Districts will head north and link with Manly, Warringah, Gordon and Northern Suburbs to form the rebranded Sydney Rays.

Leaving the Greater Sydney Rams with just three feeder clubs – West Harbour, Parramatta, Penrith and unofficially Eastwood.

While it’s likely that players will be recruited to rival franchises, we thought we’d take a look at how each of the NSW sides may shape up if the players follow the official pathway to each NRC team.

Country Eagles – NSW Country, Sydney Uni, Randwick, Eastern Suburbs

NSW’s two most successful NRC teams will merge to form the Country Eagles in 2016 giving coach Darren Coleman plenty of talent to choose from. Sydney Uni and Randwick have been the form teams of the Shute Shield so far this year while Eastern Suburbs have been the big improvers and are right in the hunt for a playoff spot. Coleman also has the luxury of calling on NSW Country origin players like Norths flanker Will Miller (who we’ve excluded for the purpose of the exercise).

Possible side (1-15):

Tom Robertson (Sydney Uni), Tolu Latu (Sydney Uni), Paddy Ryan (Sydney Uni), Ned Hanigan (Randwick), Ryan McCauley (Eastern Suburbs), David Hickey (Sydney Uni), Rowan Perry (Eastern Suburbs), Mark Baldwin (Randwick), Jake Gordon (Sydney Uni), Andrew Deegan (Randwick), Jack Maddocks (Eastern Suburbs), Dave Horwitz (Randwick), Jim Stewart (Sydney Uni), Andrew Kellaway (Randwick), Angus Roberts (Sydney Uni).

Sydney Rays – Manly, Warringah, Northern Suburbs, Gordon, Southern Districts

The renamed Sydney Rays will have far greater depth following the addition of Southern Districts in 2016. Marlins coach Damien Cummins has taken over from Geoff Townsend and has plenty to pick from with Souths, Manly, Warringah and Norths all in the hunt for the finals this year. If their Super Rugby players are available, the Rays could be on track for their first ever NRC finals berth in 2016.

Possible side (1-15): 

Rory O’Connor (Warringah), James Hilterbrand (Manly), Angus Ta’avao (Northern Suburbs), Sam Lousi (Southern Districts), Ed Gower (Manly), Jack Dempsey (Gordon), Katoni Ale (Manly), Sam Ward (Warringah), Matt Lucas (Manly), Hamish Angus (Warringah), Tom Chesters (Manly), Tyson Davis (Warringah), Dennis Pili-Gaitau (Manly) Josh Turner (Manly), Harry Jones (Warringah).

Greater Sydney Rams – Parramatta, Penrith, West Harbour, Eastwood (unofficial feeder club).

Southern Districts’ move north will hurt the Rams, who may have to look outside of their feeder clubs for talent if they are going to compete against the Super Rugby aligned sides. Eastwood will most likely dominate the side as they push towards a third straight Shute Shield title with Parramatta and West Harbour both expected to provide a handful of players each.

Possible side (1-15):

Cameron Orr (West Harbour), Hugh Roach (Eastwood), Sam Needs (Eastwood), Senio Toleafoa (Parramatta), Sevaro Domoni (Parramatta), Tyrone Viiga (Parramatta), Cohen Masson (Eastwood), Joey Afualo (Eastwood), Wayne Ngaluafe (West Harbour), Jai Ayoub (Eastwood), Josh Minhinnick (Parramatta), Blake Sutton (Eastwood), Trent Winterstein (Parramatta), Jerome McKenzie (Eastwood), Jonathan Malo (Eastwood).