The inaugural National Rugby Championship in Australia kicks off in less than a months time with the new teams starting to build up their squads.
Seen as the answer to Australia's lack of a domestic competition the NRC will host nine teams as an elite competition just below Super Rugby.
A number of South Africans will be playing in the tournement, a large number of them settling in the Perth based teams thanks to the South African influence of the Force.
Marcel Brache, Dillyn Leyds, Brynard Stander, Francois van Wyk and Marco Kotze are some of the South African players that hve been announced so far.
The teams involved will be structured around the major centres in Australia with the Gold Coast getting two teams, Sydney and its surroundings getting four, Perth, Melbourne and Canberra all getting one each.
In order to get a balance across these new teams a quota system has been put in place to ensure that each team recieves a mixture of Super Rugby players and the best up and coming players from their local club competitions.
Australian national team players that will be playing Test match rugby while the NRC is being held will still be allocated to one of the nine teams.
The Spirit presents an exciting opportunity for the best of the Pindan Premier Grade to regularly play alongside Super Rugby players from the Western Force.
Twenty players from the local Pindan Premier Grade will join 20 members from the Western Force to represent Western Australia in the inaugural competition.
The Spirit’s four Wallaby representatives – Nathan Charles, Pek Cowan, Mat Hodgson and Ben McCalman – have also been included.
Western Force head coach Michael Foley says the Perth Spirit will be an extension of the Western Force program and will provide playing opportunities for both his Super Rugby squad members and local Pindan Premier Grade players alike.
“This time last year we undertook an intensive development period which targeted three key areas,” he said.
“Firstly, achieving elite levels of fitness and strength; secondly, strengthening our involvement with our local clubs; and finally, ensuring every player had begun planning for life after rugby.
"The 2014 NRC competition provides us with another forum to target further development. "
Perth Spirit Squad: Robbie Abel, Marcel Brache, Luke Burton, Nathan Charles, Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Nili Fielea, Kyle Godwin, Richard Hardwick, Dane Haylett-Petty, Ross Haylett-Petty, Chris Heiberg, Alec Hepburn, Matt Hodgson, Zack Holmes, Oliver Hoskins, Kane Koteka, Brad Lacey, Dillyn Leyds, Va'a Mailei, Ammon Matuauto, Ben McCalman, Luke Morahan, Brent Murphy, Ian Prior, Junior Rasolea, Alex Rovira, Michael Ruru, Joe Savage, Harry Scoble, Brynard Stander, Scott Stevens, Kieran Stringer, Davis Tavita, Heath Tessmann, Corey Thomas, Justin Turner, Rory Walton, Francois van Wyk, Sam Wykes.
Queensland Rugby is fielding two teams in the competition – Brisbane City and Queensland Country – with Reds players split between the two squads.
Players were chosen for either City or Country based on their existing player pathway and high performance discretion, to ensure an even split between the two sides.
17 players within the Queensland Country squad where either born or brought up in Country Queensland or have passed through the Queensland Country pathway on their way to selection in this squad.
12 capped Queensland Reds players have been named in the 35-man squad including Anthony Fainga’a, who was recently the vice-captain of the Reds in their Super Rugby clash against the Melbourne Rebels.
The other Reds include Anthony’s twin brother Saia, Blake Enever, Scott Gale, Mike Harris, Greg Holmes, Sam Johnson, Ben Lucas, Beau Robinson and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, as well as current Wallabies Rob Simmons and James Slipper.
The team will be coached by Queensland Reds attack coach Steve Meehan, and he will be joined by assistant coaches Peter Wilkins (Reds Wider Training Squad coach), Garrick Morgan (Queensland Country Heelers) and Tim Sampson (Reds A, Easts).
“The team selected has a good balance of Reds players, Reds Wider Training Squad members and some of the best talent from club Rugby,” Meehan said.
“Anthony already has leadership experience as a senior member of the Reds squad and will captain the team.
“The growth and development of the players who have joined the squad from Premier Rugby clubs will no doubt be enhanced by having 12 capped Reds to contribute to their development as Rugby players.
“The NRC will act as an addition to the already existing Queensland Rugby pathway which will help us further nurture and develop Queensland talent, exposing them to the pressure and demands of a professional Rugby program.”
Queensland Country squad: Fred Burke, Haydn Hirsimaki, Greg Holmes, Kirwan Sanday, James Slipper, Saia Fainga’a, Ryan Freney, Tonga Ma’afu, Cameron Bracewell, Blake Enever, Sam Fattal, Rubin Fuimaono, Jack Payne, Rob Simmons, Ben Adams, Jack de Guingand, Lolo Fakasilea, Mitch King, Beau Robinson, James Turner, Scott Gale, Sam Grasso, Mike Harris, James Tuttle, Anthony Fainga’a, Sam Johnson, Clynton Knox, Campbell Magnay, Uarotafu Setu, Giles Beveridge, Pierce Fitzgerald, Ben Lucas, Tom Pincus, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, Todd Winkley,
Curtis Browning to captain Brisbane City in inaugural National Rugby Championship.
The Brisbane City side will be coached by Reds forwards coach Nick Stiles, who will be supported by Queensland Premier Grade coaches Pat Richards (Easts), Rod Seib (Sunnybank) and Shane Arnold (GPS).
Stiles today announced his 35-man squad, along with his captain.
“Curtis will do a great job as captain,” Stiles said.
“He has captained his country at the under-20 level and was twice named the Australian Under-20 player of the year. He developed a lot in the lead up to 2014 and made strong contributions on the field throughout the season.”
The 35-man squad features 10 players from the Reds 2014 main squad – Curtis Browning, Quade Cooper, Nick Frisby, Will Genia, James Hanson, James Horwill, Dave McDuling, Jake Schatz, Ben Tapuai and Lachie Turner.
They will be joined by three members of the Reds 2014 Extended Playing Squad and six from the Reds 2014 Wider Training Squad.
The remaining 16 players have been sourced from club Rugby, including the 2014 Australian Under-20s flyhalf Jake McIntyre of Brisbane club Sunnybank.
Brisbane City squad: Sef Faagase, David Feao, Phil Kite, Pettowa Paraka, Semise Talaki, James Hanson, Matthew Mafi, Andrew Ready, Tim Buchanan, James Horwill, Marco Kotze, Dave McDuling, Sam Rochester, Curtis Browning, Michael Gunn, Adam Korczyk, Chazz Mahina, Jake Schatz, Brad Wilkin, Nick Frisby, Will Genia, Jack Mullins, Will Thompson, Quade Cooper, Jake McIntyre, Samu Kerevi, Ben Tapuai, Toby White, Matthew Feaunati, Chris Kuridrani, Junior Laloifi, Harry Parker, Rex Tapuai, Lachie Turner, Brando Vaaulu.
Greater Sydney Rams
The Greater Sydney Rams have four Wallabies in their squad – Rob Horne, Ben Alexander, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Kurtley Beale.
The key feeder clubs which are making up the Greater Sydney Rams include Parramatta, Penrith, West Harbour, Southern Districts, Eastwood.
The marque players in the squad are Jed Holloway (Waratahs), Ben Vola (Waratahs), Hugh Roach (Waratahs), Chris Alcock (Western Force), Ben Alexander (Brumbies), Tevita Kuindrani (Brumbies), Kurtley Beale (Waratahs), Ben Robinson (Waratahs), Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs).
Greater Sydney Rams: Benn Robinson, Jed Gillespie, Hugh Roach, Guy Millar, Jared Barry, Hugh Perrett, Jarome Mckenzie, Apo Latunipulu, Jed Holloway, Chris Alcock, Mark Swanepoel, Vasa Falealli, Ben Volavola, Michael McDougall, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Dylan Sigg, Ben Batger, Andrew Clyne, Jai Ayoub, Maile Ngauamo, Dave Lolohea, Pat Sio, Peni Ravai, Dane Chisholm, Henry Tafua, Henry Seavula, Marcus Carbone, Sakaria Noa, Senio Toleafoa, Michael Kovacic, Tom Hill, Rhys Brodie, Lalakai Foketi.