Rising out for revenge as English returns for grudge match
Melbourne Rising appeared to be cruising towards the inaugural National Rugby Championship title after finishing the 2014 regular season undefeated.
Hosting fourth placed Perth, the Rising were odds on to book a spot in the decider, before Perth stunned the minor premiers and sent Melbourne on their end of season trip a week early.
Almost 12 months on, Perth will be playing for their season once again when the two meet on Saturday, but this time Melbourne are looking for revenge.
“I’m sure it’ll be on a few of the boys minds, but first and foremost we need to go out there and focus on what we need to do. If we can put a strong, clinical performance in, the result will come,” Rising star Tom English told Rugby News.
Despite a disjointed start to the 2015 NRC season, the Rising sit third on the ladder with four rounds remaining, with English admitting Melbourne are still to play their best rugby.
“We’ve played some good footy in patches. The last 10 minutes against the Rams and the Rays was probably our best footy of the year so we know we can finish off games when needed, but in saying that we can still get better.”
“I was chatting to Jack Debreceni earlier this week and he made a good point that it really doesn’t matter how you play all year as long as you make the finals. When you get to that point, you need to be hitting your straps and that’s when it all really counts,” English said.
English will start his first NRC match of 2015 on Saturday, lining up against good mate and former Wallabies Spring Tour teammate Kyle Godwin.
“He’s the real danger man for them, we need to keep out eye out for him. If they turn up to play with all their Super Rugby boys, then they can do anything.
“They showed last year that they have the calibre of players to beat anyone so we’ll need to be on our game.”
After earning selection in the Wallabies Spring Tour squad last year, English has been far from his best so far in 2015, but still did enough to earn selection in the Barbarians squad to play Samoa last month.
“The special thing about it is that the Barbarians have no home ground and everyone comes from all over the World to play so you really have no option but to bond with one another.
“You’ve got five days to do it, then you’ve got to play a Test match so you make some pretty strong friendships.”
Back in Melbourne, the 24-year old said he can’t wait to return to the NRC.
“I really enjoy the style of play in the NRC, it’s very fast and expansive and it gives you plenty of opportunity to express yourself,” he said.
“This year I didn’t have the greatest Super Rugby season so I’m really looking to use the NRC to build some confidence going into next season.”
Whilst he admits his form wasn’t good enough to warrant Wallaby selection this year, English said the World Cup was definitely a goal down the track.
“Watching the World Cup, it’s the pinnacle of the sport, so it makes you really want to get to an event like that.
“If I’m around here for another four years, which I hope I am, I’d really love to be apart of it.”
Perth Spirit v Melbourne Rising
Perth Spirit (1-23)
Chris Heiberg, Heath Tessmann, Tetera Faulkner, Adrian Hall, Ross Haylett-Petty, Kane Koteka, Richard Hardwick, Angus Cottrell, Ryan Louwrens, Luke Burton, Brad Lacey, Kyle Godwin, Solomoni Rasolea, Maalonga Konelio, Byron Hutchinson. Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Francois van Wyk, Jermaine Ainsley, Riley Winter, Alex Rovira, Ian Prior, Faamanatu Apineru, Daley Harper
Melbourne Rising (1-23)
Cruze Ah-Nau, Pat Leafa, Duncan Chubb, Sam Jeffries, Luke Jones, Jordy Reid, Scott Fuglistaller, Lopeti Timani, Ben Meehan, Jack Debreczeni, Stacey Ili, Lloyd Johansson, Dom Shipperley, Tom English, Jonah Placid. Reserves: Mitch Andrews, Fereti Sa’aga, Tom Moloney, Steve Cummins, Colby Fainga’a, Maradona Farao, Sione Tuipulotu, Justin Marsters.