05 Mar Whites Runners
Whilst the broader Whites Club has been sweating it out on the training paddock and getting prepared for the season ahead and pre-season trials about to commence, including a return to the Kiama 7s, a number of the Clubs emerging stars have been getting valuable playing time as part of the Brumbies pre-season and early season and then as part of the Brumby Runners (the Clubs ‘A’ team) program.
As fires raged around the region in late January, the Brumbies took a squad of close to 50 to take on the Rebels in Albury. With the Super Rugby squad at a maximum of 37, it enabled the players from the Brumbies Academy to join and make 2 full squads taking on a similar squad set up from the Rebels. In the first trial played in very humid conditions after some earlier much needed rain in the region, the club was represented by young guns Fred Kaihea and Zeph Tuinona joining the Whites Brumbies allocated players Nick Frost and Guy Porter in getting over the Rebels 34-31, after leading 26-5 at the break. In the main game, the Brumbies were far too strong for the Rebels in the end running out convincing 45-14 winners.
Trials completed, the Super rugby season has kicked off in the earnest and the Runners have a program of 4 matches with home and away matches against the Rebels and the Waratahs ‘A’ sides. The first of these matches was held as the curtain-raiser to the Brumbies vs Rebels super rugby clash on 7th February at GIO Stadium. In an almost repeat of the trail match, the Runners jumped out to a 21-0 lead 10 minutes into the second half before the Rebels launched a mini comeback to score 2 tries. The Runners settled and posted a last try to emerge victors 28-12. The Whites were again well represented with the side being led by the Whites Brumby Lachlan McCaffrey, who had just returned to the Brumbies from an off-season in Japan, and Porter and joining them on the bench was Kaihea, Tuinona and also young lock Zane Marolt.
The Runners ventured up the highway last week to take on the Waratahs ‘A’ side, and with their Super Rugby team having a much needed bye, the Tahs took the opportunity to get some players some much needed game time given their ordinary start to the Super Rugby season. The Brumbies, with a an extended squad in New Zealand and a number of injuries and illnesses, only had 6 contracted players that they could call on and so the bulk of the squad were the area’s best up and coming 18-20 year olds. The Waratahs opened up a 0-28 lead at the half time break however the Runners managed to stem the tide and ended up on the end of a 12-40 scoreline in a tough outing. Joining Porter, Kaihea, Tuinona and Marolt in Sydney was damaging young forward Davea Teoteo who, whilst travelling as the back-up hooker, was thrown into the action at No.8 and displayed his renowned physicality.
The ‘A’ program now sees the Runners head to Melbourne to again take on the Rebels on Friday 6th March and then a fortnight later, the Runners vs Waratahs game has been moved from Canberra to the Hanging Rock complex at Bateman’s Bay for the return match. The game will be played on Friday evening with the squad staying for the night to take up a number of community engagement activities with the local juniors on the coast with coaching clinics and other activities on Saturday morning.
Depending on injuries and availability of contracted Brumbies, it is anticipated that the Runners will run very similar squads for the remaining matches of their program which is showcasing the current crop of talented young stars who will be looking to make their mark in this seasons John I Dent Cup.