10 Aug UC Vikings announce 2016 playing squad
The University of Canberra Vikings have today named a 36-man squad for the 2016 Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) comprising of some of Australia’s most exciting talent.
All seven ACT Clubs will be represented in this year’s squad, as they were in 2015 when the side finished runner-up in the national competition.
Among the squad will be five 2016 Brumbies Colts players, three of which went on to represent Australia at the U20s World Championships in Manchester and seven players who were standouts for the ACT Griffins representative side in 2015.
One player who fills both those categories is Canberra junior, Jordan Jackson-Hope, who made a stunning Super Rugby debut with the Aquis Brumbies earlier this year and is now in line to make his NRC debut with the UC Vikings.
Grand finalists in this weekend’s John I Dent Cup, Tuggeranong (10) and Queanbeyan (6), are heavily represented, while the competition’s big-improvers, Gungahlin, have been rewarded with seven players named in the final squad including the competition’s leading try-scorer Jamie Kotz.
2015 JIDC champions, Royals, will have six representatives in this year’s side. Three Easts players have been named and two each from Uni-Norths and Wests.
Some new additions to the squad in 2016 come with previous NRC experience including Queanbeyan backrower OJ Noa, who debuted with Melbourne Rising in 2014, former NSW Country Eagles winger Eli Sinoti (Wests), former Sydney Stars utility back Andrew Robinson (Tuggeranong) and exciting teenage playmaker, Nick Jooste, who was a member of the Brumbies squad in 2016 following some eye-opening performances for the Perth Spirit last year.
New Head Coach Wayne Southwell said this year’s squad features a mix of youth and experience, ranging from NRC rookies to Wallabies representatives.
“As well as Brumbies players, we’ve named a number of the John I Dent Cup’s most consistent performers who we think will play key roles in our side,” Southwell said.
“The John I Dent Cup is one of Australia’s toughest club competitions and the NRC gives these guys an opportunity to show what they can do on a national stage.
“There’s a number of Brumbies and local players we haven’t selected as they will be undergoing surgery and rehabilitation over the off-season.
“We had to make a lot of tough decisions, but in the end I think we have selected an extremely competitive side.”
The UC Vikings finished the second season of the NRC as runners-up after falling to minor premiers Brisbane City in the grand final at Ballymore.
“Our goal is to win the competition and I think our squad is definitely capable of achieving that benchmark,” said Director of Rugby Dan McKellar.
“The NRC is a great platform for young players to show that they deserve a professional contract.
“As we’ve seen over the first two years of the NRC, club players like Joe Powell and Les Leulua’iali’i-Makin have used their performances in this competition to force their way into the Brumbies Super Rugby squad.
“We’re hoping the NRC program here continues to do that for many years to come.”
This year’s UC Vikings squad will feature 20 players with Super Rugby experience and six capped Wallabies players have also been named.
Among the familiar faces are Brumbies locks Sam Carter and Tom Staniforth who return to the UC Vikings after spending last season with the NSW Country Eagles. Utility back Robbie Coleman also returns to the side after missing last year’s NRC through injury.
“The younger players in the squad will gain a huge amount from having these experienced guys around, not just on the field but on the training paddock and in the gym as well,” Southwell said.
The UC Vikings kick off their NRC campaign against Queensland Country at Bond University on the Gold Coast on Sunday 28 August.
The side’s first home game is against the NSW Country Eagles at Viking Park on Sunday 4 September, kickoff at 3:00pm.
University of Canberra Vikings 2016 playing squad
|Edan Campbell-O’Brien||UTILITY BACK||Uni-Norths|
|Robbie Coleman||UTILITY BACK||Queanbeyan|
|Jordan Jackson-Hope||UTILITY BACK||Tuggeranong|
|Dean Oakman-Hunt||UTILITY FORWARD||Tuggeranong|
|Andrew Robinson||UTILITY BACK||Tuggeranong|
|Jordan Smiler||UTILITY FORWARD||Easts|
|Andrew Smith||UTILITY BACK||Queanbeyan|