2018 Shute Shield Season Review: Parramatta Two Blues
A season that brought three wins and 15 losses usually isn’t something that is celebrated but 2018 Two Blues head coach Paul Hardwick says there was much to like about the way that Parramatta went about their business.
Hardwick believes that a solid foundation has been set for future years and if the now rebranded Western Sydney Two Blues can hang on to a few good players then the club is heading places.
The Ken Catchpole Medal win for the Shute Shield’s best and fairest player was won by first grade captain Adrian Musico, while Jaline Graham played NRC with the NSW Country Eagles and of course their fourth grade side made the playoffs and were considered by many unlucky not to go deeper into the finals.
Here’s what coach Hardwick, who will be at Gordon next year with Darren Coleman, had to say about their 2018 Shute Shield season:
With hindsight, how do you look back on the season?
The Two Blues continue to punch above their weight! The playing group and coaching staff did a great job to continue to be competitive throughout the season, getting stronger towards the end. Unfortunately the win and loss columns aren’t flattering, however, the continual development of players to higher honours is certainly something the club can hang their hat on when looking back on 2018. A huge buzz for the club was our Shute Shield captain Adrian Musico being awarded the Ken Catchpole Medal. Something that Adrian and all those associated with him should be rightly proud of.
You started the season with games against Sydney Uni, Eastwood and then Warringah – that must have tested resources and attitude?
We had a great preseason and trialled successfully and there was a positive attitude right through the grades. Our first few rounds demonstrated that we were just off the pace in some areas – all fixable which showed in the second half of the season.
Was there a match or two that defined your season?
It certainly was a roller coaster ride. Winning all grades against Gordon was certainly a great day for the club, just going down to Manly by a point was heartbreaking, and the dismal display against Randwick hurt the playing group.
What did you do well this year?
We were able to adapt each week to show genuine improvement. While we had a number of “work ons”, our defence and attack improved which was represented in a much better for and against ratio in the second half of the season. Our ability to be physical was a strength and our opposition certainly knew they had played Parramatta after the match.
What didn’t you do well this year?
It took us longer to gel as a playing group on the field. Our decision making under pressure is something that let us down at times, however, with an extremely young side you expect that and that is something that will improve as they get more exposure in first grade games.
Overall, how did the club fare this season in all grades etc?
Our mighty fourth grade made the finals which was a big effort from all involved. It was great to see a Parramatta team in the playoffs and hopefully we see more of it over the next few years. All grades and colts sides represented the club in a professional and engaging manner. I think the club can build on the positive work of recent seasons in order to make the club and district a real powerhouse for the game in the west of Sydney.
Our captain and Ken Catchpole Medal winner Adrian Musico is an obvious choice, however, we had a promising squad that are only going to get better over the next few seasons. Jaline Graham was outstanding and extremely elusive in attack, he was rewarded with a NRC contract (with the NSW Country Eagles), Tuitakau Kioa dominated in the forward pack and was extremely difficult to tackle, Brandon Kipisi is still a colt and played loose head prop in a tough competition he certainly is one to watch. Jonathon Malo and Hilton Gibbons’ experience helped shape the attack, and one of the club’s junior developed player Riley Jacobson always played well above his weight.
Which non contracted player deserves to play at a higher level?
Adrian Musico and Tuitakau Kioa have another level in them. I also think Jaline Graham is up to Super Rugby level.
What does your club need to do between now and round one next year?
It is an exciting time for the club – rebranding, a new development for the home ground in progress and new coaching staff. It will be interesting to see how things progress!
Bold prediction for 2019?
The rugby community will embrace the Two Blues’ new direction!
THE 2018 SEASON IN STATS
Bonus points: 4 (11th)
Points differential: -35 (ninth)