2017 Season Preview: Waratahs
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By Pete Fairbairn, 14.02.17

In preparation for the 2017 Super Rugby season, which kicks off on Thursday 23rd February, RUPA are running the rule over a big year for each of the Australian teams; on and off the pitch!

With the assistance of Player Development Manager (PDM) Lachlan McBain, here’s what to look out for at the NSW Waratahs, as they seek to return to finals action this year.

2016 RUPA Camp Attendees:

Ned Hanigan, Harry Jones, Ryan McCauley, Senio Toleafoa

2016 RUPA Awards Winners:

Jake Gordon (Buildcorp NRC Players’ Player of the Year), Michael Hooper (Taylors Wines People’s Choice Wallaby of the Year)

2017 Recruits:

Cameron Clark, Damien Fitzpatrick, Sekope Kepu, Mack Mason, David McDuling, Sam Needs, Irae Simone, Michael Wells

Most impressive newcomer:

“He’s not necessarily a newcomer per se, but Damien Fitzpatrick has returned to the Club following a three-year stint in Lyon (France) that came on the back of successive serious knee injuries cruelling his last few seasons with the Waratahs,” McBain says.

“Damien has settled in very nicely and quickly established himself as a leader amongst his peers. That, combined with a high workload in relation to his MBA studies, has been very impressive and made Damien a bit of an inspiration to his teammates.

“Irae Simone and David McDuling have fitted in to their new Club seamlessly as well; in fairness, all of the new players have made a very positive impression.”

It’s going to be a big year off the field for:

“Any number of players!” McBain says. “Somebody such as Rob Horne, for example, as he continues his studies whilst navigating family life. He’s also heading overseas at the end of the year, so he has to prepare for that but at the same time he is so determined to finish on a high note.

“It will also be a big year for ‘Keps’ (Sekope Kepu), who has returned from overseas and is determined to make the most of the opportunities that the Player Development Program provides.

“Finally, a couple of younger players in Jake Gordon and Ryan McCauley are heading into their first year at University while also trying to push through for a Super Rugby debut, so they’re going to be working really hard in Rugby and away from the field.”

Describe your team’s leadership:

“The leadership group is one that has been voted in by the playing group,” McBain says. “In reality, it is a group of individuals who have earnt their leadership titles by the sheer manner in which they conduct themselves both on and off field, and the reality is that they would do that without the formal titles."

The group comrpises of Michael Hooper, Dean Mumm, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Rob Horne, Andrew Kellaway and Sekope Kepu.

What role are you playing to support the players to perform at their best?

“I am performing whatever role each individual needs me to perform,” Lachie laughs. “As a PDM, I broadly look after the six pillars of Career & Education, Wellbeing, Cultural Awareness, Finance, Personal Toolkit and Integrity.

“Each player has different needs as an individual and as such I need to tailor the support I provide each individual player to suit their needs. It’s a very rewarding job and one I enjoy a lot.”

List of those enrolled in study:

- Cameron Clark (Bachelor of Business (Management))
- Andrew Deegan (Bachelor of Commerce)
- Damien Fitzpatrick (Masters of Business Administration)
- Israel Folau (Cert IV in Youth Work)
- Jake Gordon (Bachelor of Sports & Exercise Science)
- Ned Hanigan (Bachelor of Science)
- Bryce Hegarty (Bachelor of Law)
- Rob Horne (Masters of Commerce)
- David Horwitz (Bachelor of Commerce)
- Harry Jones (Bachelor of Health & Movement)
- Andrew Kellaway (Bachelor of Commerce)
- Tolu Latu (Cert IV in Youth Work)
- Matt Lucas (Bachelor of Business (Management))
- Mack Mason (Stock & Station Licence)
- Ryan McAuley (Bachelor of Business)
- Nick Phipps (Masters of International Business)
- Hugh Roach (Bachelor of Arts)
- Tom Robertson (Doctor of Medicine)
- Matt Sandell (Commercial Pilots’ Licence)
- Will Skelton (Bachelor of Commerce)
- Michael Wells (Bachelor of Laws & Commerce)
- Brad Wilkin (Bachelor of Commerce)

Home Games:
- Saturday 25th February vs. Western Force
- Saturday 18th March vs. ACT Brumbies
- Sunday 2nd April vs. Crusaders
- Saturday 22nd April vs. Southern Kings
- Saturday 6th May vs. Blues
- Sunday 21st May vs. Melbourne Rebels
- Saturday 8th July vs. Jaguares

For more information on the NSW Waratahs, including player profiles, membership, tickets, merchandise and news, head to their official website.

14.02.17
Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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