Intrust Shute Shield: Graduating class of 2015
By Sam Ryan
The Intrust Super Shute Shield has long been regarded as Australian rugby’s top breeding ground and 2015 may just be one of the best examples of that yet.
On the back of bumper Shute Shield seasons in 2015, we take a look at some of the club players that are ready to take the next step in their careers this season.
1) Michael Alaalatoa – West Harbour/Crusaders
In his two years with the Waratahs, Alaalatoa made just one Super Rugby appearance, spending the majority of his time playing with West Harbour in the Shute Shield. The 24-year old joined ITM Cup side Manamatu at the end of 2015 and picked up a contract with the Crusaders after just 10 matches in New Zealand.
2) Dave Porecki – Manly/Saracens (UK)
Consistent Manly hooker Dave Porecki received a call up to the Waratahs squad in 2015 following injuries up the order, before joining UK club Saracens in the lead up to last year’s World Cup.
3) Matt Sandell – Sydney Uni/Waratahs
Sydney Uni prop and Mudgee junior Matt Sandell has joined Cam Blade’s scrum school at Moore Park and will continue to develop in the years to come after earning some game time in the Waratahs trials this year.
4) Lukhan Tui – Randwick/Reds
Despite playing his first game of rugby as a 17-year old, Randwick and Australian U20’s lock Lukhan Tui quickly became one of the most sought after players in Australian rugby and at 198cm and 121kg, you can understand why. Whilst Tui has a long way to go in terms of rugby development, the Reds seem fairly excited about his progress and handed him a three year deal late last year.
5) Ben Matwijow – Northern Suburbs/Reds
26-year old Norths lock Ben Matwijow has been one of the Shute Shield’s most consistent performers for years now and after heading across the ditch to help Canterbury claim the ITM Cup, Matwijow was signed by the Reds to cover injured Wallaby Kane Douglas.
6) Jack Dempsey – Gordon/Waratahs
At just 21, Jack Dempsey is one of the most exciting young forwards in Australia. The former Australian Schoolboys and Australian U20’s representative was a standout for Gordon in 2015 and made his Waratahs debut from the bench late in the season. From all reports, Dempsey has trained the house down through preseason and is expected to see plenty of Super Rugby game time in 2016.
7) Boyd Killingworth – Warringah/Aussie 7’s
Hardworking Warringah flanker Boyd Killingworth had a disjointed 2015 season through injury, but returned late in the year and featured in the Rats push towards the finals. On the back of that, the 23-year old picked up a contract with the Australia Sevens program and could be on his way to Rio later this year.
8) Jed Holloway – Southern Districts/Waratahs
After making his Super Rugby debut in 2013, Souths skipper Jed Holloway hasn’t been seen much in sky blue in recent years, but has continued to impress at Shute Shield and NRC level. The 23-year old gets a chance to start at No.8 for the Waratahs this weekend and will be eager to make the jersey his own.
9) Matt Lucas – Manly/Waratahs
Marlins scrumhalf Matt Lucas already has 12 Super Rugby caps to his name, but found himself back at Manly Oval in 2015 after falling out of favour at Moore Park. The nippy rake was one of the best for last year’s grand finalists throughout 2015 and signed to play in Italy before he was picked up by the ‘Tahs early this year.
10) Ben Volavola – Southern Districts/Crusaders
Playing behind the Wallabies first choice No.10 and No.15 made things difficult for Ben Volavola at the Waratahs, but his form at Shute Shield level was no indication of that. The flyhalf starred for Fiji at last year’s World Cup and has now joined the Crusaders in 2016 following the departure of some fella named Dan.
11) Henry Hutchinson – Randwick/Aussie 7’s
Just days shy of his 19th birthday, Henry Hutchison was one of the stars of the Sydney 7’s, helping Australia to within a whisker of their first series win in years. The Randwick speedster didn’t play a heap of Shute Shield last season, but did enough to pick up a full time contract ahead of the Olympics in Rio this year.
12) Dave Horwitz – Randwick/Waratahs
After waiting in the wings for two seasons, Horwitz will become the first ever Jewish Super Rugby player on Saturday night when he makes his debut for the Waratahs. The 21-year old was outstanding in a young Randwick side last season showing experience and class well beyond his years and picked up the Ken Catchpole medal for his efforts.
13) Reece Hodge – Manly/Rebels
Reece Hodge was another standout for Manly in 2015, helping the Marlins book a spot in the Shute Shield decider. The speedster can play almost anywhere in the backline and can knock over goals from 70m…literally. Hodge will add some much needed firepower to the Rebels outside backs.
14) Paul Asquith – Southern Districts/Rebels
After spending two years with the Australian Sevens squad, Asquith returned to Forshaw to focus on the 15-a-side game and was again one of the Rebels best in their run towards the finals. How the utility back fits into the Rebels set-up is unknown but if he gets an opportunity, he’s unlikely to disappoint.
15) Tom Kingston/Aussie 7’s
Following an injury riddled run down in Melbourne, Tom Kingston returned to the Shute Shield in 2015 and had an immediate impact. The fullback quickly returned to his best and was snapped up by the Australian Sevens program ahead of this year’s Olympics.