Julian Huxley joins North Harbour Rays coaching staff

Australian Rugby World Cup player Julian Huxley speaks at a news conference in Montpellier, September 26,  2007.  REUTERS/Steve Holland (FRANCE)

By Mark Cashman

The North Harbour Rays will welcome former Wallaby Julian Huxley to their coaching team for the 2015 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship season.

Huxley will take care of the Rays’ exciting legion of backs that will include the likes of scrumhalf Josh Holmes, Michael Adams and the man who scored one of the best tries of the 2014 NRC season Dave Feltscheer.

Huxley’s appointment is one of a number of other coaching team announcements with Manly Marlins head coach Damien Cummins taking care of the Rays’ forwards and James Brodie again heading up the strength and conditioning.

The 36-year-old Huxley, a former Wallaby, has been working with Sydney Uni in the Shute Shield for the past couple of seasons and this job at the Rays is a natural progression in his coaching development.

Head coach Geoff Townsend said he was excited to welcome such a talented and aspirational coach to the Rays’ family.

“Haig Sare (Warringah coach) set a good standard with our backline play in our first season and we won’t miss a beat with ‘Hux’ coming in,” Townsend said.

“At times our kicking game wasn’t up to speed last year so that’s an area that I think we will gain from having Julian in our coaching group.

“Julian was one of the best kicking out of hand players we have had in Australia over the past 10 or 15 years and I am sure with his guidance we will be able to get us to those parts of the field that we need to be to win games.”

In his playing days Huxley played nine Tests for the Wallabies debuting in 2007 and going to the Rugby World Cup in France under then head coach John Connolly.

He played Super Rugby for the Brumbies, Reds and Rebels playing a total of 81 games and notching up 342 points.

Huxley finished his time in Super Rugby at the Rebels in 2012 after making an emotional recovery from surgery to have a brain tumour removed and treated in 2011 while he was at the Brumbies.

Doctors picked up the tumour when Huxley had a seizure after the Brumbies 2011 match up against the Queensland Reds and immediately went into treatment that involved a major operation, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

When his time at the Rebels came to an end he had a season with Narbonne in the French second division. Narbonne is coached by his former Brumbies teammate Justin Harrison and run by former Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom.

Huxley is currently on holiday with his wife in France.

With the draw being released last week the Rays will begin to come together for the looming season next Wednesday night (July 8).

A number of contracts have been issued for players from the Rays catchment group (Gordon, Manly, Northern Suburbs and Warringah) and the likely leadership group has already met with Townsend to map out the way forward

The Rays will share their home games between Manly Oval and Pittwater Rugby Park during the season with three of their four fixtures featuring afternoon kickoff times.

North Harbour Rays 2015 NRC Draw

Round 1: North Harbour Rays v Sydney Stars

Round 2: Perth Spirit v North Harbour Rays

Round 3: North Harbour Rays v Melbourne Spirit

Round 4: Brisbane City v North Harbour Rays

Round 5: Bye

Round 6: North Harbour Rays v UC Vikings

Round 7: Greater Sydney Rams v North Harbour Rays

Round 8: North Harbour Rays v QLD Country

Round 9: NSW Country Eagles v North Sydney Rays