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The NSW Country Eagles have announced a strong 33-man squad for the inaugural National Rugby Championship set to start in August, 2014.
Head coach Darren Coleman believes the squad to be a suitable amalgamation of senior and junior players.
“I’m really happy with the squad we’ve got. The recruitment process has been a long one, but I think in the end it’s a very balanced squad and one that will be very competitive this season”.
General Manager James Grant expressed his excitement in bringing rugby to the bush, citing that the side’s rural breakdown as a significant reason for why “the side has got off the ground”.
The squad features 15 players with Super Rugby experience and Coleman is optimistic that the younger players will be able to benefit from the knowledge and experience of the team’s senior players.
“It’s a massive opportunity for these young guys to use this competition as a stepping stone to professional Rugby,” Coleman said.
“By spending time with some of the older boys, I think they’ll learn pretty quick what it takes to be a professional footballer, both on and off the field.”
Among the exciting young talent that the Eagles boast are Junior World Cup stars Andrew Kellaway – the competitions leading try-scorer, David Horwitz and Sam Croake.
Significantly, former ACT Brumbies No. 8 Ita Vaea has been finally cleared of a life-threatening blood clots that ruled him out of the game for close to two years and will consequently play for the Eagles this season. Colleman said of Vaea;
“Everyone knows what a powerful ball runner he is but I think he’s going to surprise a few people with his work rate and presence at the breakdown. He’s definitely one to watch.”
Adam Ashley-Cooper, Sekope Kepu, Matt Toomua and Nic White have been allocated to the Eagles as part of the Wallabies fair distribution initiative.
Full NSW Country Eagles Squad for 2014 NRC
Michael Alaalatoa (Prop), Mitch Chapman (Lock), Duncan Chubb (Prop), Sam Croke (Backrow), Ryan Danziel (Hooker), Kane Douglas (Lock), Tala Gray (Backrow), Steven Hoiles (Backrow), Max Lahiff (Prop), Josh Mann-Rea (Hooker), Ben Matwijow (Lock), Tim Metcher (Prop), Will Miller (Backrow), Ben Suisala (Prop), Pauli Tuala (Backrow), Cam Treloar (Lock), Ita Vaea (Backrow), Will Weekes (Hooker)
Matt Carraro (Centre), Patrick Dellit (Outside Back), Darcy Etrich (Halfback), Ethan Ford (Outside Back), John Grant (Outside Back), David Horwitz (Flyhalf), Andrew Kellaway (Outside Back), Apakuki Ma’afu (Centre), Brendan McKibbin (Halfback), Misieli Sinoti (Outside Back), Mick Snowden (Halfback), Ed Stubbs (Centre), Chris Tuatara-Morrison (Centre), Malakai Watene-Zelezniak (Outside Back), Sam Windsor (Fly Half).
The Eagles development squad will be released next week.