2017 Shute Shield Season Preview: Warringah
Warringah have had arguably the most talented playing roster in the competition for a number of years now and with Darren Coleman and Damien Cummins at the helm, many feel they may finally fulfil their potential this season.
Josh and Luke Holmes, Hamish Angus and Dave Feltscheer will be joined by Samoan international and former London Wasps flyer Sailosi Tagicakibau, Waratahs recruit Maclean Jones, 37-year old club legend Cam Treloar and a host of young stars at Rat Park this year and it’s got fans on Sydney’s Northern Beaches very excited.
Last year: Preliminary final (4th) 11 wins, 63 pts.
Ins: Sailosi Tagicakibau (London Wasps), Sireli Tagicakibau (Manly), Maclean Jones (UQ), Sam Needs (Eastwood), Cam Treloar (retired), Tom Priest (NZ), Harley Atwater (Manly), Chris Alley (Easts), Tui Tuisavaii (Gordon), Dan Martine (Newcastle), Tueti Asi (Newcastle).
Outs: Rodney Iona (France), George Amosa (France), Ben Adams (retireds), John Mokofisi (Manly), Pat Curtin (sabbatical), Mike Adams (Australian Sevens).
Overview with Darren Coleman:
“It’s always exciting to come to a new club, there is always plenty of energy because the players are trying to impress the new coaches and the coaches are looking to get to know the players better.
“I think Warringah should be pretty happy with their season last year. Finishing fourth was a good result but unfortunately they didn’t find their best in the finals.
“There is definitely a lot of excitement around the club at the moment because I think people realise that if we can tweak a few things and do certain things a little better, then we can take that next step and challenge at the end of the season.
“That’s a long way off though, we’ve got to get through preseason first.
“It’s an interesting playing group because you’ve got two ends of the spectrum. You’ve got the senior guys like the Holmes brothers, Hamish Angus, Dave Feltscheer, local juniors who have over 400 caps for the club between them. They’re not your typical 30-year old Shute Shield players because they don’t need any motivation, they want success and they’re driving all the standards and training as hard if not harder than anyone else.
“Then on the other end, we’ve got a great young group of aspiring professional players. Tyson Davies, Rory O’Connor, Harry Jones, Seb Wileman. They are all established NRC players now and they want to get to that next level.
“We’ve played quite a few Sevens tournaments over summer and have been fortunate enough to have some success. It’s also allowed us to integrate some new players into the group and create a bit of a winning culture.
“We’ve got four guys in the Australian Sevens squad at the moment and their season actually ends in round eight so it’ll be interesting to see if they are available to play. We’re not expecting to see them, if we do then it’s a bonus, but we’re planning around the players we’ve got at the moment.
“At this point of the year, every club thinks they’ve done their best pre-season ever and it doesn’t always hold true so it’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next month or so.”
Key areas of improvement:
“Warringah are a bit of a challenging side to coach in some ways because you don’t want to coach the good parts out of their game.
“Last year I thought Warringah were the best ad-lib attacking team in the competition and they have been for years. Their turnover attack, their kick return attack and some of the off-the-cuff tries have been amazing so we want to improve our structures but at the same time we don’t want to shackle the guys and stop them from playing that fantastic attacking ad-lib rugby.
“Our biggest work on is probably our lineout. It wasn’t great last year and that’s something we need to improve.”
Player/s to watch:
“There’s a kid named Esera Chee –Kam who is currently killing it with the NSW U20s, he can play centre or on the wing and I’m really looking forward to getting him back in Rats colours to see what he can do.
“We’ve got another good graduating colt, a six foot seven lock named Andrew Davies and I’m interested to see if he’s got all the tools to push into higher level footy. Whether it’s this year or a few years down the track will be interesting.
“Then I’m interested to see if wheelchair access allows Cam Treloar to have a real impact. He’s 37 now, so it’s a pretty significant effort because he’s training the house down.”
What are your hopes and expectations for the season?
“I think like any coach, you want your side to move forward so for us, we want to improve our results from the year before. Although Warringah finished fourth on the ladder, they didn’t really fire a shot in the finals and were disappointed to lose both games in the playoffs and go out in straight sets.
“Our first goal is to make the playoffs and put ourselves in a position to have a crack. The first step is to make the playoffs, then we need to do better in those key matches then we did last year.
“I imagine some of the older guys are probably thinking that their window to win a Shute Shield premiership is probably closing, so it would be great to do it for those guys. In saying that, the club is putting programs in place to ensure that when they do move on, there will be guys ready to replace them.”
Who will your team play in the grand final?
“I think it’s going to depend a little on the Waratahs selections and injuries. I imagine Manly and Sydney Uni are probably watching very closely to see if they’ll get Matt Lucas or Jake Gordon. Those two guys are massively influential for their respective teams.
“Norths now know how to get it done. I think Randwick will be better from their experiences last year. Those young guys are all now 22 or 23-years old, plus Owen Finegan will add plenty of intellect to their forward play.
“Easts will be another year older and I think that Souths will be strong, they’ve recruited well. Although they’ve potentially lost Dewet (Roos), they’ve got Paul Asquith back and a few others to plug some holes.
“At this stage, as many of the coaches have said, I think last year’s top eight will remain competition, then you’ve got Parra, Gordon and Wests who will all improve so it’s really hard to pick. I don’t think I can single one side out just yet.”