Watch National Rugby Championship NRC 2014 Live NSW Country Eagles vs Greater Sydney Rams match will be kick off at Coogee Oval, Sydney,Saturday 23 August 2014 online, Time 15:00 AEDT and its broadcast Online.
Though it sounds like Super Rugby players Stephen Hoiles, Mitch Chapman, and Josh Mann-Rea will be missing this week, my sources say there will still be upwards of eight players with Super Rugby experience in the starting side.
Cam Treloar, who I reported yesterday is super keen for one last professional hurrah in Australian rugby, is in line to start, along with Tala Grey and Leinster-bound Kane Douglas, who is about as good a bonus pick-up as a new team could get, on his Waratahs form.
In the backs, Matt Carraro, Patty Dellit, and Australia Under-20s flyer Andrew Kellaway are ready to pull on the Country gold. I’m also hearing that both of the Eagles’ Illawarra-based players, Pauli Tuala and Misieli Sinoti, are in line to win bench spots, which is brilliant news.
The big news coming out of the Greater Sydney Rams this week is the return to Australian rugby of former Waratahs lock Steve Mafi. Mafi has spent the previous four seasons with English Premiership club Leicester Tigers. Mafi will join the Western Force next season, and is returning to his Parramatta roots by running around in the NRC with the Rams.
The Rams will also name their side later today, and expect it to be heavily reliant on the Eastwood and Souths teams that met in the Shute Shield grand final last weekend. Something like 20 Rams-aligned players took the field for either side, and it was announced this week that Souths captain and promising young Waratah Jed Hollaway will lead the Rams in the NRC.
Holloway is likely to form a very useful backrow combination with Western Force and former Eastwood flanker Chris Alcock, but I’m hearing that Eastwood skipper Hugh Perrett may not play in Round 1.
Out wide, the Sydney premiership-winning Eastwood midfield of Jai Ayoub, Tom Hill and Michael McDougall are all likely to feature in the matchday 23, while new Waratahs cult hero, giant winger Taqele Naiyaravoro is set to take his place in the side.
The Rams also want it known to their supporters making the journey east – into the ‘country’, they wanted me to point out – that the Coogee Bay Hotel is their official home away from home for the first game. If you’re heading to the game, drop in and say hi.