The New South Wales Country Eagles have announced their 33 man playing squad for the inaugural Buildcorp National Rugby Championships.
The squad features fifteen players with Super Rugby experience and a host of Australian Rugby’s most exciting young talent.
NSW Country Eagles Head Coach Darren Coleman believes his squad has the perfect mix of youth and experience and has no doubt the Eagles will be a force in 2014.
“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.
On the back of a successful campaign at the IRB Junior World Cup, Australian U20 stars Andrew Kellaway, David Horwitz and Sam Croke will wear Country Gold in the Buildcorp NRC.
Coleman is hopeful his younger players will learn from the likes of Kane Douglas, Stephen Hoiles and Matt Carraro.
“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.”
In a huge boost, former ACT Brumbies No. 8 Ita Vaea will play with the Eagles after being medically cleared of life-threatening blood clots that ruled him out of the game for close to two years.
“Ita is a player I’ve known for a long time and its great to see him back playing at the top level.”
“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.”
The squad also features two players picked from the 2014 NSW Country Cockatoos.
Pauli Tuala and Misieli Sinoti were both standouts for Illawarra at the 2014 Country Championships and impressed Coleman enough to be included in the playing squad.
With more than half the squad hailing from Regional NSW, the Eagles will bring matches to Lismore, Orange and Dubbo in their inaugural season.
Eagles General Manager James Grant, himself a former Wallaby, can’t wait to bring Rugby to the bush.
“This is why we got this team off the ground. To being top quality Rugby to Country New South Wales. We’ve already received plenty of support from around the State and can’t wait to get into our first season.”
Wallabies Adam Ashley Cooper, Sekope Kepu, Matt Toomua and Nic White have also been allocated to the NSW Country Eagles in 2014.
The Eagles Development Squad will be released next week.
2014 NSW Country Eagles
Andrew Kellaway – Outside Back
Apakuki Ma’afu – Centre
Ben Matwijow – Lock
Ben Suisala – Prop
Brendan McKibbin – Halfback
Cam Treloar – Lock
Chris Tuatara-Morrison – Center
Darcy Etrich – Halfback
David Horwitz – Flyhalf
Duncan Chubb – Prop
Ed Stubbs – Centre
Ethan Ford – Outside Back
Ita Vaea – Backrow
John Grant – Outside Back
Josh Mann-Rea – Hooker
Kane Douglas – Lock
Malakai Watene-Zelezniak – Outside Back
Matt Carraro – Centre
Max Lahiff – Prop
Michael Alaalatoa – Prop
Mick Snowden – Halfback
Misieli Sinoti – Outside Back
Mitch Chapman – Lock
Patrick Dellit – Outside Back
Pauli Tuala – Backrow
Ryan Danziel – Hooker
Sam Croke – Backrow
Sam Windsor – Fly Half
Steven Hoiles – Backrow
Tala Gray – Backrow
Tim Metcher – Prop
Will Miller – Backrow
Will Weekes – Hooker