Randwick 2016 Season Preview – With Shannon Fraser
by Paul Cook –
Last Year: 6th (52pts)
Ins: Reece Robinson (NSW Waratahs)
Outs: Toa Asa (Dax, France); Sam Figg (Aussie Sevens); Kodie Hawkins (West Harbour); Henry Hutchison (Aussie Sevens); Lukhan Lealaiauloto-Tui (Queensland Reds); Moa Maliepo (Parramatta)
Coaching Team: Head coach – Shannon Fraser / Assistants – Jayson Brewer, Mark Giacheri, Morgan Turinui
Shannon Fraser: “We haven’t brought many new players to the club and only lost a few so we’re a pretty settled group and we’re looking to build off the platform we set last year and take it to a new level this year. There was a fair bit of movement last year in the top grades from the previous year and we had a lot of new guys playing in 1st and 2nd grade so it would have been a waste if we’d moved a lot of those guys on. We’re backing our ability to develop within and using the guys that went through a huge learning curve last year, and I think the club will be better for it.
“2015 was about pulling things apart in relation to our playing style; we had to change some behaviours and we made some subtle changes to the culture within the organisation and they were successfully implemented so we’ve had the ability to start 2016 preparations from a higher point. We’re very confident with the style that we’re looking to evolve from last year and we’re a fair way down the track in putting that style under a bit of pressure. We’re very settled in the way we want to play and we’re very confident that the way we want to play suits the people we’ve got and suits the direction the game is going, so it’s a matter of getting our timing right and applying it under pressure and tweaking it where we need to.”
Key Areas of Improvement:
“Last year there was an element of physicality that we wanted to improve on, and we definitely worked on that as a cornerstone to 2016. We’ve also worked on our strategies to use the ball, not necessarily more, but in a smarter way and a more efficient way. A lot of that comes with the maturity of the guys and now we’re 12 months into the way we’re playing, those things are starting to take shape.
“The set-piece is something that’s always evolving and we’ve recognised that there are some law adjustments surrounding this area of the game and have adapted what we’re doing. We’ve brought some pretty good resources in around the group to ensure that we move with those changes; Mark Giacheri is back at the club helping out with our set-piece as a consultant and we’ve also got Richard Stanford, recently retired from Easts, who’s helping out our 2nd grade in relation to the set-piece as well. We’ve also brought on board two new coaches in former Randwick and Wallaby, Morgan Turinui, and Phil Green, who joins us from the NSW Country Cockatoos. That puts a lot of resources in around the group so we have the capacity to continually challenge the guys and get more of a collaborative approach to what we’re doing.”
“Ben Starkey and Devan Stoltz are two backs that are coming up from colts, along with Ollie Kemp and Nick Kellaway in the forwards, that we’re hoping for big things from. And while they’re not new sensations because they played plenty of 1st grade between them in 2015, we’re looking for Mitch Short and Sam Croke to have standout years as well. Mitch made some significant gains last year, which were well rewarded by a stint with the NSW Country Eagles in the NRC. Sam’s season was a little bit disrupted last year and had a few disappointments around the Aussie U20s but he’s had a really good pre-season and I think we’ll see some really strong things from him as well.”
What are your hopes/expectations for the Galloping Greens in 2016?
“Similar to last year, we want to get better. We want to make sure that we’re constantly improving but we’re also very conscious of the way we play. Results are one thing and we certainly keep track of those but we’re going to measure ourselves on our ability to play a brand of football that we’re immensely proud of. The guys have bought into the direction we’re taking and embraced the Randwick way, we just want to see them have the confidence and the courage to play that way every week. We’re not going to hide from the fact that we want to be top four, and that’s a natural progression to what we did last year and where we see ourselves this year. We need to win enough games and put ourselves in the position to be in that top four come the end of the year and in many ways, anything less than that and we won’t have reached our potential. Top four is our benchmark.”