ACT Club stars bolster Brumbies Rugby stocks

The University of Canberra Brumbies have rewarded nine of Canberra’s most promising rugby players with spots in their pre-season squads in preparation for the 2013 Super Rugby and John I Dent seasons.

Sam Windsor (Queanbeyan), Matt Hawke, Andrew Barrell (Gungahlin), Gareth Clouston, Tim Cree (Tuggeranong), Chris Cocca (Easts) and Robbie Abel (Royals) were joined by Australian Schoolboys Andrew Robinson and Tom Staniforth at Brumbies training from late October.

For Windsor, it’s another step towards fulfilling his ambition of signing a professional rugby contract. The talented playmaker spent two years playing in London before returning to the Whites and is keen to put his best foot forward over the next month of rugby.

“It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I left school, be part of a program like this,” Windsor said.

“With the changes the Brumbies have made to their program and the way they select players from club rugby it’s made opportunities more available for players like me.

“It’s been amazing here with the bunch of lads, coaching staff and support staff. You can see it’s going to be a big season here for the Brumbies.

Windsor was part of the Brumbies Academy back in 2008, before making the move to Europe. He said this pre-season presented him with one of his best opportunities to take the extra step and show the fulltime coaches what he was capable of.

“The coaches are obviously teaching us a fair bit, but training alongside the guys who are a similar age to us but have a bit more experience is also helping me improve.

“In terms of facilities and coaches, I’ve never been a program like this. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”

Usually an opponent, Windsor has enjoyed running inside Gungahlin’s powerful ball runner Matt Hawke during the last three weeks of pre-season. Hawke has made a positive impact throughout the last 18 months of rugby in Canberra and was regarded as one of the local competition’s best players in 2012.

Hawke was equally as excited by the prospect of training with the fulltime squad for pre-season.

“The professional side of things is where I’ve probably learnt the most so far. The drills and working through rugby sort of stuff, we’ve all done that but making it a fulltime job is really exciting,” Hawke said.

“This is the first time I’ve been involved with a fulltime program like this and the professionalism is taking some getting used to. Everything is run to a deadline – we need to see results from every session.

“It’s not so much a case of turning up for training, there’s a lot for me to take away from the experience in how I prepare for a game and approach a training session.”

ACT Club players training with the University of Canberra Brumbies:

 - Andrew Barrell
 - Matt Hawke

 - Sam Windsor

- Gareth Clouston
- Tim Cree
- Andrew Robinson

 - Chris Cocca

 - Robbie Abel

Australian Schools
- Tom Staniforth
- Andrew Robinson