2019 Shute Shield Season Review: Randwick
It’s quite strange to think that the highlight of Randwick’s 2019 season will come after the grand final has been played, but on Saturday the Galloping Greens take on Argentina in the first International rugby match at Coogee Oval since the club’s famous clash against the All Blacks in 1988.
We caught up with head coach Hadley Jackson to take a look back at Randwick’s 2019 Shute Shield campaign and take a peek ahead at this weekend’s match and next season.
Overview with Hadley Jackson:
“It was disappointing that we didn’t get to the heights that everyone was aiming for at the start of the year,” coach Hadley Jackson told Rugby News.
“We just weren’t good enough in certain areas to match the top teams but I know the coaching group and the playing group learnt a hell of a lot this year.
“It was a new group with a lot of young players coming into grade, plus first year coaches so we took a lot away from it but we would have liked to have gone better.
“Looking back, we missed a penalty goal after full time to beat Gordon and that hurt us. If that goes through, we would have been pushing for a spot in the finals.
“We also dropped games to West Harbour and Souths in the early rounds and that meant we were playing catch up. We did a good job of that for a while, but I always thought we were one or two wins behind where we needed to be.
“It took us a little bit longer to come together as a group than we expected with a new style and a lot of new combinations so we were a little bit behind the eight ball.
“But I thought we stayed in the fight all year. We dropped our first three games and could have turned it in then, but we fought our way back into contention through the season and hung in all year, which isn’t easy to do as a young group. I think it showed a lot of character.
“There are certain parts of our game that we’ve identified that we need to improve on to be a threat next year. We’ve ticked off quite a few parts of the game but we’re still missing a bit.
“The match against Argentina this weekend is a huge opportunity and I don’t think the guys will really understand how big an opportunity it is until 20 or 30 years down the track.
“We’ve got the 1988 Randwick side that played the All Blacks presenting the jerseys to the boys on Friday night and I know how much that game meant to those players. It’s going to be an incredible day.”
Which of your non contracted players deserve to play at a higher level?
“I think Tom Nowlan in the second row is one. He’s come a long way this year and made his NRC debut off the bench on the weekend.
“We’ve also got a number of boys that have had a taste of it, but deserve another crack. Guys like Nathan Den Hoedt and David Vea.
“We’ve also got a young halfback named Tyzac Jordan. He played most of the season in second grade behind Mitch Short but I think he’ll get a crack in the next few years.”
What needs to happen at Randwick between now and round one next year?
“Looking at the games against Eastwood and Uni, we were just physically outgunned. If we want to match it with those sides, our physicality and strength, particularly in the forward pack, needs to go up a notch.
“Everyone wants to recruit a 205cm South African lock with Super Rugby experience and if they were out there, most clubs would have them so there are still a few avenues we’re going down and we’re looking outside of the box a little to find what we need for next year and we’re confident we’ll do that.
“Firstly though, it’s our responsibility to ensure that the younger guys coming into the club make that transition into grade rugby. We’ve got plenty of young talent with the right physical and mental attributes, so we have to find a way to help them develop.”
Bold prediction for 2020:
“Three of the top six teams next year will come from outside of the six this year and we’ll be one of them.”