Shute Shield: Mid Season Review – Part 3

As the Shute Shield takes a weekend off to celebrate an old English ladies’ birthday, we thought we’d take the opportunity to check in with all 11 coaches and find out how they think their side is travelling at this point of the season.

Finals footy might still be a long way off this year, but there isn’t a lot of room for error in a competition as tight as this one.


Southern Districts: 8th – 4 wins, 5 losses

Southern Districts started the season as one of the competition favourites, but looked anything but in the opening few rounds.

But the Rebels upset Norths in round nine and will welcome back a number of stars in the coming weeks and could make a run similar to the one they made at the back end of last season.

How would you describe your start to the season? Are you where you thought you would be at this point of the year?

“We are not where we wanted to be at this point of the season,” Rebels coach Matt Barr said.

“We’re in the same position as we were this time last year and we identified in our review of 2017, that a good start and consistency in our performance was required to put us in a strong position at the business end of the competition.”

Who has been your best performer so far this year?

“Marcus Carbone has been in great form and inspirational as a leader. He’s been followed closely by Denny Godinet who has led and guided a young and constantly changing backline the first half of the season in the absence of some our experienced players.”

What do you need to do over the next 9 rounds to consider 2018 a success?

“It’s been frustrating because we’ve been our own worst enemies in our losses,” Barr said.

“However, we’re confident we have turned the corner with three wins from our last four games and a strong performance against Norths that will set the standard for us moving forward.”

West Harbour: 6th – 5 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw

West Harbour have been the big improvers this season and have made Concord Oval a fortress in 2018.

The Pirates are sixth at the halfway point of the season, but coach Todd Louden thinks his side are still a long way off their best.

How would you describe your start to the season? Are you where you thought you would be at this point of the year? 

“In short, it’s been patchy. We’ve had to rebuild the squad after a number of players were recognised and picked up professional contracts in the first six weeks of the season,” Louden said.

“It shows our development programs are working but also it creates issues with stability of the team so we have very much had some highs and lows as all teams do.

“The competition is so tight and is coming down to a call and/or a momentum shift every game, so to be in the top six at the halfway point is good. But our targets are incomplete and we have a lot of work to do to achieve our goals.”

Who has been your best performer so far this year? Why? 

“Obviously Kelly Meafua receives a lot of recognition for the big impact that he has during a game, but Enoka Muliufi at No.12 has been strong and impactful as well and he will only get better and better as he’s still young.

“Jake Kay has been our most consistent. He’s got the highest work rate and efficiency rating in the squad and he’s always looking to improve his game.”

What do you need to do over the next 9 rounds to consider 2018 a success? 

“The team has had a big focus on building and improving throughout the season. That doesn’t change and we simply need to keep getting better.

We haven’t focused on the opposition, our focus is playing consistently to our capacity. That won’t change as we know if we can play our best rugby at the back end of the year, we will be hard to stop.”

Randwick: 9th – 2 wins, 7 losses

A relatively new look Randwick side have struggled so far this year under new coach Owen Finegan.

The Galloping Greens are ninth with just two wins to their name but have plenty of young talent ready to make a name for themselves in the top grade.

How would you describe your start to the season? Are you where you thought you would be at this point of the year?

“The early part of the season saw some mixed results but over the last month we’ve been competitive with teams at the top of the table. Unfortunately when the game has been in the balance, we’ve been unable to convert pressure into points,” Randwick coach Owen Finegan said.

Who has been your best performer so far this year?

“With over 18 debutants this year we have had several strong performances. David Vea has been improving week in week out and has solidified our set piece. Christian Yassmin has also been a real attacking threat for us this year and will only improve with more rugby.”

What do you need to do over the next 9 rounds to consider 2018 a success?

“We’d obviously like to be higher up the table, but over the next nine weeks we’ll try to improve our performance and move up the table week by week.”

Eastern Suburbs: 7th: 5 wins, 4 losses

Easts looked the good early on after winning four of their first five matches but have come back down to earth slightly since.

Regardless, the Beasties are in the mix this year and will likely welcome back a number of Waratahs in the final few rounds before the finals.

How would you describe your start to the season? Are you where you thought you would be at this point of the year?

“It’s been okay, but not great,” Easts coach Pauli Taumoepeau said.

“We started well but the come down has been quite humbling. Having 3 losses in a row isn’t what we wanted. We’ve probely had one more loss that I would have realistically wanted heading into mid season break.”

Who has been your best performer so far this year?

“We’ve had a few players stand out at different times of the year. Our Tahs players have been awesome. Connal McInerney has been solid and deserved his Brumbies call up. Brodie Wilson has bounced onto the scene and features in the top try scorers in the comp,” Taumoepeau said.

“But a player who’s been consistent for us each week has been Rowan Perry. It’s the small things that Rowan gets right. He’s found his form after a few injuries last season and has been in our top two or three players each game in the opening 9 rounds.”

What do you need to do over the next 9 rounds to consider 2018 a success?

“Win games!”

“For this season to be any kind of success we need to make the playoffs. I’m not interested in any emotional success that people will bring up if we don’t make the top six. We haven’t played any finals since 2013.

“Although I’m new to the team there’s a core group that’s been around for a while. We need these blokes to continue to shift their mentality and find a way to grind out wins in the last 20 minutes of games.

“Our next five opponents are in the top six at the moment. We’ll know pretty quick if we’ll be around after round 18.”