NSW Country Eagles 2017 NRC Squad & Season Preview

2016 was almost the perfect season for the NSW Country Eagles. After falling just short of the playoffs a year earlier, the Eagles lost just won match on their way to a home grand final in Tamworth.

But after playing almost every match in dry conditions, the Eagles failed to fire on a wet night in the country music capital and were beaten by Perth 20-16 in the decider.

“It was a great year to be a part of. There was a great vibe within the group from day one and unfortunately we tripped at the last hurdle,” Eagles coach Darren Coleman said.

“I’ve still got quite a few regrets about that game. We played a really attacking style all season and scored 35 plus points most weeks and we tried to do that in the final at night in wet conditions and it just didn’t work. It was a real hollow way to end what was a great season.”

While the likes of Ned Hanigan and Tom Robertson have graduated from the NRC to the Wallabies squad, Coleman has retained the majority of last year’s group.

“We’ve got 19 or 20 players returning from last year and I think that’s the best retention rate we’ve had over the years and that’s exciting and should help us hit the ground running. We won’t have a lot of time before round one, so that could end up being quite important.

“We’ll miss a few of those guys, but hopefully we’ve got the next Ned Hanigan playing in our side this year.”

The Eagles open their season with a clash against the Greater Sydney Rams at TG Millner next Saturday and after a bye in round 2 and a trip to Fiji in round 3, play matches in Armidale, Goulburn, Tamworth and Orange.

“We’re going to a few new places and returning to a few of the towns that we love playing at. I know in Armidale, the university is getting right behind the match and Tamworth always puts on a great day. We got rained out in Orange last year, so it’s great to be heading back there as well.”

Player to watch – Brandon Paenga-Amosa (Southern Districts)

“We’ve picked up Souths hooker Brandon Paenga-Amosa. I watched a few games of the games he played leading into the finals this year and I’d probably say he was the best player in the Shute Shield for a period there,” Coleman said.

“He’s big, strong and mobile and he works really hard around the park, so he’s one I’m really excited about.”

NSW Country Eagles 2017 squad

Taylor Adams, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Lachie Anderson, Cam Betham, Tim Buchanan, Tyson Davis, Alex Gibbon, Matt Gibbon, Kyle Godwin, Jake Gordon, Tom Hill, Harry Johnson Holmes, Maclean Jones, Christian Kagiassis, Andrew Kellaway, Nick Kellaway, Tolu Latu, Ryan McCauley, Pat McCutcheon, Connal McIrnerney, Sam Needs, Alex Newsome, Rohan O’Reegan, Rowan Perry, Henry Clunies Ross, Paddy Ryan, Mitch Short, Tom Staniforth, Lachie Swinton, Sam Ward, Seb Wileman.

Round 1 v Greater Sydney Rams (Away)