Intrust Shute Shield: Five players to watch in 2016

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Photo: SPA Images

By Sam Ryan

With the opening round of the Intrust Super Shute Shield just days away, Rugby News has picked a few new and returning faces to feature ahead of what is expected to be one of the tightest competitions in recent memory.

Rowan Perry – Eastern Suburbs

22-year old flanker Rowan Perry spent the preseason training with the Waratahs after impressing for the Canberra Vikings in the NRC over the last two years. The NSW Far North Coast junior is strong at the breakdown and a consistent ball runner and will add plenty to the Beasties forward pack this season.

Joel Luani – Eastwood

Former Australian Schoolboys No.8 Joel Luani was one of Australian rugby’s most exciting prospects a few years back after helping Newington claim the GPS title undefeated in 2010. He was picked up by the West Tigers straight out of school and played nine NRL matches before returning to rugby in 2016 to play with Eastwood. The Woodies have named Luani at inside centre in second grade this weekend, but keep an eye out for the 24-year old in the centres or the backrow in the weeks to come.

Rodney Iona – Warringah

Former Brumbies and Canberra Vikings centre Rodney Iona has moved north to Sydney and will join Warringah in 2016. Although things didn’t quite work out of Iona down in Canberra, the 24-year old former Australian Schoolboy showed just how good he could be in last year’s NRC and will fit in nicely to the talented Rats backline.

Justin Masters – West Harbour

After starring in Melbourne’s Dewar Shield competition, Masters picked up an NRC contract with the Melbourne Rising and never looked out of place alongside many of his Rebels teammates. Masters has been named at outside centre for this weekend’s clash against Norths, but can be equally as damaging at fullback or wing.

Rohan Saifoloi – Southern Districts

Rohan Saifoloi was the Shute Shield’s leading pointscorer in 2013 and arguably one of the best players floating around the competition before he left to pursue a Sevens career. After a stint in the ITM Cup with Tasman, Saifoloi is back at Southern Districts and will look to fill the void left following the departure of Ben Volavola to the Crusaders. Interestingly though, he’s been named in second grade this weekend.

Catch Sydney University play Eastwood live on 7TWO this Saturday from 3pm.