Damien Cummins to coach Sydney Rays in 2016 NRC

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Manly Marlins coach  Damien Cummins will head up the re-badged Sydney Rays coaching team for the 2016 National Rugby Championship season.

Cummins will work with Simon Cron (Northern Suburbs) and Julian Huxley (Warringah Rats) in what is sure to be a vibrant and thoughtful coaching structure as the Rays begin the next stage of their development.

The Rays have widened their catchment area this year with the demise of the Sydney Stars and will represent much of the greater Sydney metropolitan area.

Cummins takes over from the head coach of the past two years Geoff Townsend (Gordon) who stood down at the end of the 2015 season.

He worked with Townsend for the first two years of the Rays’ existence and said he was looking forward to stepping up into the head coaching role.

“It’s a great honour,” Cummins said. “I’m keen to make playing for the Rays as an enjoyable experience as we can possibly make it.

“I want everyone who has been with us to say that they loved what they did and that they got something positive out of it.

“Hard work and fun in Rugby are often closely related and that’s what I want this side to be all about.

“At the same time we want to be competitive with the best in the NRC and from where I stand I can see no reason why that cannot happen.

“We don’t want to be a team that is constantly in ‘development mode’, we want go out there with ambition and win some games.

“After all winning’s the best sort of fun that you can have.”

Cummins has already started work bringing the Rays 2016 program together and will be at NSW Waratahs headquarters at 8am on Saturday morning for a series of meetings.

The Waratahs are keen to have their contracted players getting as much game time as possible throughout the 2016 NRC and this could work to the Rays advantage.

From there it’s off to Manly Oval for the big showdown with his Rays coaching teammate Simon Cron for one of the bigger Shute Shield showdowns of the weekend.

The coaching selection panel included Rays chairman Gary Flowers, board member Grahame O’Donnell and the Waratahs’ elite pathways co-ordinator Tim Rapp.

Cummins will announce his backroom staff in coming weeks.