All you need to know for the second season of the National Rugby Championships 2015.
2014 Statistics: 1 win, 1 draw and 6 losses, 2014 wooden spooners.
The Stars will be hoping to leave the dismal 2014 season in the past and their fans will be expecting a better showing this time round.
2014 Head Coach: Chris Malone, has taken on a role as Waratahs assistant coach.
2015 Head Coach: Peter Playford will juggle his coaching role with his full time marketing job. He currently holds the most tries in an ITM cup season for the Tasman Makos.
Four of the Stars young guns went on to higher honers, most notable of which was James Dargaville, who received a number of caps for the ACT Brumbies.
The Stars will have a strong forward pack, filled with big names to give them some hope in the 2015 season. Ex-Reds’ player and future Rebel, James Hanson, as well as Waratahs Jeremy Tilse, Tolu Latu, Paddy Ryan, Dave Dennis and Pat McCutcheon (C) will all likely take the field for the Stars this season.
Tom Carter has again been named in the Stars squad, however if he plays a similar role to what he did in 2014, he will shape up as a spiritual leader, not earning many minutes on the field.
James Hanson; was named in Michael Cheika’s initial Wallabies squad this year, before being cut from the 31 man Rugby Championships squad. There is still doubt whether Cheika will take three hookers to the Rugby World Cup, but if he doesn’t Hanson will definitely make waves in the NRC.
Theo Strang; it will be interesting to see how the 18-year-old Scots College student will be managed. During the season, he will be juggling the NRC and the HSC, so surely he wont see much game time, however he is definitely one for the future.
The Stars look to have a better team on paper and they might well cause a few upsets off the back of a strong forward pack. A finals berth still appears to be a big ask for the boys from Sydney.
Bottom three finish: The Sydney sides will likely struggle to compete with the Super Rugby based feeder teams and for that reason, i think the Stars will end the season near to bottom of the table.
Greater Sydney Rams
2014 Statistics: 3 wins, 1 draw and 4 losses, 2014 5th place holders, just missing out on a finals appearance.
The Rams have lost a number of key players from the 2014 campaign and they will disappointed from a fifth place finish last year. Only one more win was needed to make the finals, however they dropped a number of games that they should have put away.
2014 Head Coach: Brian Melrose and John Manenti
2015 Head Coach: Ex-Wallaby player and assistant coach Jim Williams takes the reigns of the Rams.
A number of last years Waratahs, Hugh Roach, Benn Robinson and Taqele Naiyaravoro, are all expected to play for the Greater Sydney based side. Captain Jed Holloway will no doubt play a large role for the Rams again this season.
A total of 11 Southern Districts players have made the cut, while Eastwood (6), West Harbour (4) and Parramatta (3) have all contributed to the squad.
Dewet Roos; the live-wire halfback is filling the void left by departure of Mark Swanepool and Vasa Falealli. He has been electrifying this season in the Shute Shield and will add quick delivery and effective snipes around the breakdown.
Rohan Saifoloi; returns to Sydney after a year with the Tasman Makos. He was a Ken Catchpole Medal nominee, for the greatest Shute Shield player of the season, in 2013, scoring the most points of the season (242) and leaving many people wonder why he hadn’t received a Super Rugby signing.
Ben Volavola (Fiji), Chris Alcock (Brisbane City), Henry Taefu (Brisbane City), Steve Mafi (Tonga), Jarome Mckenzie (NSW Country) and Hugh Perret (retired) are all players that will be missed by the Rams.
The Rams showed signs of brilliance in 2014, lacking consistency and a level head at times. The team on paper is very different this year, however a lot of the core players have resigned and they could well manage to go one better than last year, making the playoffs.
Middle three finish: If they are able to capitalise on missed opportunities they had last year, they may sneak into the final finals spot.
NSW Country Eagles
2014 Statistics: 6 wins and 2 losses, 2014 third place holders.
The Eagles were excitement machines in 2014, introducing players such as…. There have been a number of personel changes since last season, however be sure to expect much of the same.
(Procarlos Sports Photography)
2014 Head Coach: Darren Coleman
2015 Head Coach: Darren Coleman
A few stars return for the Eagles second attempt at the title. Steven Hoiles, Andrew Kellaway, Ita Veae amoung others are joined by a few fresh faces.
Bed Hanigan; was one of the stand outs from the Under 20s Junior World Cup for Australia early this year. He can play lock or back row, is a genuine country talent and an exciting prospect for Australian rugby.
Sam Carter; will be looking to do enough for the Eagles for a late Wallabies call up. His present will negate the loss of Kane Douglas, as he brings strength and experience.
Beau Robinson; country by Beau has made the move from the Queensland-bases country side. His work rate will be invaluable and he will be sure to lead by example.
The boys from the NSW bush are expected to yet again play a tradition country brand of rugby. Utilising a big robust forward pack, which will set the platform for an exciting backline.
The Eagles hold the biggest hopes for a NSW-based franchise.
Top three finished: off the back of last years performances and with the addition of some high quality players, the Eagles are yet again true title contenders.
Written By Nelson Dale