NRC: Canberra Vikings announce 2016 playing squad

Tom Staniforth has come through the UC Brumbies pathways.

The Canberra Vikings have today named a 36-man squad for the 2016 National Rugby Championship.

All seven ACT Clubs will be represented in this year’s squad, as they were in 2015 when the side finished runner-up in the national competition.

Among the squad will be five 2016 Brumbies Colts players, three of which went on to represent Australia at the U20s World Championships in Manchester and seven players who were standouts for the ACT Griffins representative side in 2015.

Some new additions to the squad in 2016 come with previous NRC experience including Queanbeyan backrower OJ Noa, who debuted with Melbourne Rising in 2014, former NSW Country Eagles winger Eli Sinoti (Wests), former Sydney Stars utility back Andrew Robinson (Tuggeranong) and exciting teenage playmaker, Nick Jooste, who was a member of the Brumbies squad in 2016 following some eye-opening performances for the Perth Spirit last year.

New Head Coach Wayne Southwell said this year’s squad features a mix of youth and experience, ranging from NRC rookies to Wallabies representatives.

“As well as Brumbies players, we’ve named a number of the John I Dent Cup’s most consistent performers who we think will play key roles in our side,” Southwell said.

“The John I Dent Cup is one of Australia’s toughest club competitions and the NRC gives these guys an opportunity to show what they can do on a national stage.

“There’s a number of Brumbies and local players we haven’t selected as they will be undergoing surgery and rehabilitation over the off-season.

“We had to make a lot of tough decisions, but in the end I think we have selected an extremely competitive side.”

The Vikings finished the second season of the NRC as runners-up after falling to minor premiers Brisbane City in the grand final at Ballymore.

“Our goal is to win the competition and I think our squad is definitely capable of achieving that benchmark,” said Director of Rugby Dan McKellar.

“The NRC is a great platform for young players to show that they deserve a professional contract.

“As we’ve seen over the first two years of the NRC, club players like Joe Powell and Les Leulua’iali’i-Makin have used their performances in this competition to force their way into the Brumbies Super Rugby squad.

“We’re hoping the NRC program here continues to do that for many years to come.”

This year’s UC Vikings squad will feature 20 players with Super Rugby experience and six capped Wallabies players have also been named.

Among the familiar faces are Brumbies locks Sam Carter and Tom Staniforth who return to the UC Vikings after spending last season with the NSW Country Eagles. Utility back Robbie Coleman also returns to the side after missing last year’s NRC through injury.

“The younger players in the squad will gain a huge amount from having these experienced guys around, not just on the field but on the training paddock and in the gym as well,” Southwell said.

The Vikings kick off their NRC campaign against Queensland Country at Bond University on the Gold Coast on Sunday 28 August.

The side’s first home game is against the NSW Country Eagles at Viking Park on Sunday 4 September, kickoff at 3:00pm.

Canberra Vikings 2016 playing squad

Robbie Abel (Easts), Allan Alaalatoa (Uni-Norths), Rory Arnold (Gungahlin), Jarrad Butler (Tuggeranong), Edan Campbell-O’Brien (Uni-Norths), Sam Carter (Royals), Robbie Coleman (Queanbeyan), James Dargaville (Gungahlin), Nick Dobson (Gungahlin), Ray Dobson (Gungahlin), Blake Enever (Easts), Brent Hamlin (Royals), Jordan Jackson-Hope (Tuggeranong), Nick Jooste (Wests), Jamie Kotz (Gungahlin), Tevita Kuridrani (Queanbeyan), Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin (Queanbeyan), Josh Mann-Rea (Gungahlin), Connal McInerney (Royals), OJ Noa (Queanbeyan), Dean Oakman-Hunt (Tuggeranong), Dan Penca, (Queanbeyan), Joe Powell (Tuggeranong), Jake Rakic (Tuggeranong), Andrew Robinson (Tuggeranong), Eli Sinoti (Wests), Scott Sio (Tuggeranong), Faalelei Sione (Royals), Jordan Smiler (Easts), Andrew Smith (Queanbeyan), Henry Speight (Gungahlin), Tom Staniforth (Royals), Darcy Swain (Tuggeranong), Lausii Taliauli (Royals), Sione Taula (Tuggeranong), Isaac Thompson (Tuggeranong).