NSW CAS: Barker 2019 CAS Season Preview

2018 couldn’t have gone much better for Barker who claimed the Henry Plume Shield for the first time since 2013.

But a new look Barker squad, led be coach Dean Hargreaves, will look to defend the CAS title in 2019 in what is expected to be one of the most competitive seasons in recent memory.

Overview with Dean Hargreaves:

“2018 was a great year for Barker rugby. The boys worked very hard all year and I was really proud of them, as was the entire Barker community,” Hargreaves told Rugby News.

“We had a few boys that returned for a second season in firsts and after impressing in year 11, they took a lot of confidence and plenty of experience into their year 12 season.

“I think the biggest reason it clicked last year though was because they all just really got on as a group. Socially, they were very good friends and on the field they loved playing with and for one another, which showed in some of those tight games.

“Every year is a new challenge. Every team, while some players return, they’re effectively new sides and I think this year we’ve got different strengths and we’ll face difference challenges to what we faced last year. So will all of the other schools as well.

“Looking at the results so far, there seems to be a few schools that are going to be a lot stronger this year than they have been in the past. From that perspective, it’s going to be harder but our guys are looking forward to it.

“We’re still trying to develop in a few areas and we’re quite happy with where we are at in others, so I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks time.

“Our trial form has been a little bit of a mixed bag. We’ve had some really strong results, which was obviously really pleasing but we’ve also played some games against some really good oppositions.

“Those games were probably more useful for us in terms of identifying things that we need to do differently. I feel that the players have taken the opportunity and learned from some of those losses and I think we’re much better for it.”

2019 Squad:

“I actually haven’t counted numbers, but we’d have five or six players returning from last year’s squad then another one of two that were on the fringe of the group, so I suppose we’ve probably got half the team back roughly,” the coach said.

“The rest have predominantly come up from the 16A’s last year with a few coming up from seconds.

“The group definitely has a younger feel to it this year but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, it’s just different.”

Key areas of improvement: 

“The one thing we’ve spent a lot of time on is trying to get clarity around our roles, both in attack and defence. All the guys have plenty of enthusiasm but at times that actually causes errors because guys try and solve other guys problems and do other peoples jobs.

“We want clarity around our roles so that we can stay composed during games and if those things click, I think we’ll be in a good space.”

Hopes and expectations for the season: 

“It’s really about these boys getting the most out of their rugby. We want them to play to a standard each week that they’re proud of and that their school and their families are proud of.

“As I said, we’ve got some tough games and we’re under no illusions there. But I hope we’re able to put a performance on the field each week that the boys can be proud of.

“On top of that, I’d also like to see some of the guys get rewarded individually with some of the representative stuff down the track.”

Bold prediction for 2019:

“There’s going to be plenty of tough rugby,” Hargreaves predicted.

“Last year was a bit of a two horse race to be fair, whereas this year I genuinely think that pretty much every school will be able to threaten and everyone probably genuinely considers themselves a good chance.

“Cranbrook and Trinity are going to be much stronger, Knox have produced some great results already, Waverley are always a powerful team and Aloys will give you a run for your money at home as well.

“We know we’ve got five really tough games ahead of us and if you’re not on your game come Saturday, any side this year will have the ability to roll you.”

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