Work Hard Or Don’t Play: Easts Coach Rauluni Sends Clear Message With Trials Approaching

By Finn Morton; Photo – QRU Media Unit/Brendan Hertel

Christmas has come and gone and for Premier Grade players, that means lacing up the boots once again and ripping into more pre-season with their first trial matches only weeks away.

Easts have done just that, returning to Bottomley Park in 2020 in good spirits according to head coach Mosese Rauluni.

The former Fijian captain was previously an assistant with the Saracens Academy and part of the Flying Fijians coaching staff on two seperate occasions.

But back with Easts for another season, Rauluni is focussed on building on last year’s finals exit, and bringing silverware back to Tigerland.

“Pre-season has been good. All about fun and working hard. We’ve had good turnout and really good energy from the boys,” said Rauluni.

“The focus this season will again be physicality and work-rate. If you don’t work hard, you can’t play for this team. Our training culture has been outstanding.

“You can do all the fitness you want during pre-season but there is nothing like match-fitness so I’m sure the boys will be blowing in the first trial match.”

Easts will be without club-leaders Tom Milosevic and Matt Gordon in 2020, after the Easts stalwarts signed for Burt St Edmunds RUFC and English Championship side London Scottish respectively.

Up-and-comer Landon Hayes also put pen to paper for an overseas deal with Stirling County for the inaugural Super Sixers competition in Scotland.

Rauluni played for Saracens from 2004 until 2010, so he couldn’t blame the former Tigers for taking their opportunities abroad. Instead, he seemed optimistic about the next wave of talent coming through the ranks in East Brisbane.

“We have lost a few players overseas but I’m really happy for Tom Milosevic, Matt Gordon and Landon Hayes, all going to the UK. What a great rugby and life experience.

“You have to take those opportunities because your rugby career doesn’t last too long.

“I’m excited about our colts. Last year we found two gems in Fred Fewtrell and Zac Crothers, hopefully we’ll have some more coming through.

“Tyrell Barker will do a great job with them and they will be grade ready in one to two years’ time.”

The Tigers will also be without former assistant coach Sione Fukafuka, who has taken over from Evan Willis as Sunnybank’s new Head Coach.

While wary of a new-look Dragons outfit, Rauluni was confident that new assistant Mark Bartholomeusz can use his experience to guide the Tigers to success.

“Sione was good for us. He was very organised and very detailed with his coaching. He will be a great asset to Sunnybank. We will have to be careful with how we play them this season.

“We have brought in Mark Bartholomeusz who has a wealth of experience playing-wise, playing in the Brumbies golden era, UK and Italy.

“(Bartholomeusz) Coached at Brisbane State High School last year and I am so grateful he has agreed to join us.”

The Tigers’ 2019 season ended on a disappointing note, outplayed by eventual champions the University of Queensland in the minor semi-final.

It’s a match that Rauluni hopes his side learn from with trials and round one quickly approaching.

“When we started contact we mentioned how Uni totally out-played us physically and we never want it to happen to us again.

“With all the injuries we had last year I was so proud of the boys that we made it to the semis, hopefully we have learned from that experience last year and have learnt how finals are a totally different standard.”

“I’m happy at this stage but there’s still a lot of work to do. I know the boys will work hard to gain a place in the starting-fifteen in the first competition game against Norths.”