Hanigan Profiles NSW Country Eagles
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By Pete Fairbairn, 19.10.16

The NSW Country Eagles head into the Buildcorp NRC Grand Final this weekend looking to complete a clean sweep of the trophies on offer in Australia’s third-tier competition. They currently hold the Minor Premiership, the Horan-Little Shield and the Benn Robinson Bell, and their confidence will only be boosted by the fact that they hold the home ground advantage this Saturday against the Perth Spirit in Tamworth.

One of their key players this campaign has been lock/back rower Ned Hanigan, who has shown immense promise with the Waratahs and has been an absolute standout at this level in 2015.

Hanigan will miss the game after suffering an ankle injury a fortnight ago, however as we did with Perth Spirit Captain Heath Tessmann we’ve sat down with young Ned to find out more about his Eagles teammates.

NSW Country Eagles Pocket Player Profiles – By Ned Hanigan

Adams, Tayler (8 games, 18 points):
“Tayler is an extremely skilful bloke, who has great vision on the field and has an extraordinary talent at getting the ball to space.”

Baldwin, Mark (6 games):
“I have played with Baldy for a long time, he’s a great bloke off the field and he gets up at outrageous times in the morning to milk cows before he comes in and goes bloody hard on the football field. He got three turnovers on the weekend; he’s a very important bloke to have in the side.”

Betham, Cam (4 games):
“He has been a bit unlucky with injuries, but the big fella throws his weight around on the field and can be lethal in defence; loves putting a good shot on.”

Buchanan, Tim (7 games):
“I’ve really enjoyed packing into scrums with Timmy Buck! He is one of those locks who hits outrageous amounts of breakdowns, and off the field I have roomed with him in Canberra and he loves his chocolate.”

Croke, Sam (3 games):
“I’ve played a lot of footy with Crokey. He’s been a bit unlucky not to get as much game time this NRC, but he’s a skilful character who plays bigger than he is and uses his brains. He’s like a young Stephen Hoiles.”

Cusack, Tom (6 games, 6 points):
“I’d heard of him from the Rugby Sevens program, but he’s an absolute larrikin of a bloke. When he is standing next to you on the field, you can rely on him completely; he’s a pleasure to play alongside.”

Deegan, Andrew (8 games, 54 points):
“We grew up together, and Deegs is a very analytical five-eighth. He is very reliable in defence, and offers plenty off the field too. He stays humble, and loves a swing of the golf club too.”

Fainga’a, Folau (4 games, 6 points):
“Folau had a bit of a rough start of the NRC this year with a few yellow cards early on, but he has been an integral part of the Eagles and has really stood up with Tolu heading off to Wallaby duty. I’ll be looking forward to seeing him in action in Tamworth.”

Figg, Sam (7 games, 18 points):
“Figgy has had an absolute blinder of a season. He has added a lot to the group, and you can’t fault his work ethic. He was buggered at half time in Newcastle (Semi Final), yet he just finds a way to keep going. We all respect him and we all love being able to rely on him.”

Gillespie, Jed (8 games):
“He’s the life of the party; a very funny bloke. He keeps all the boys entertained with his one-liners, and his impact off the bench has been very important. His work in the scrum has been exceptional, and he’s played an integral part in turning it into one of our teams’ strengths.”

Godwin, Kyle (8 games, 18 points):
“I am going to miss playing with Kyle when he heads off to the Brumbies. He doesn’t mind a little chip kick to Reece Robinson out wide, and he has been enjoying his time in Bondi for the eight weeks he’s here. I wish him all the best for Super Rugby next year, he’s primed for a killer season.”

Gordon, Jake (7 games, 54 points):
“Jake is electric; he pulls plays out of the hat that you just don’t think are going to happen. He hits the gas, and next thing you know he’s dotting the ball down, and he plays a very important role for our team. He has Grand Final experience with Sydney Uni, and he’s definitely one to keep your eye on this weekend.”

Hill, Tom (4 games, 12 points):
“Tommy has been unlucky in that he has always trained well, and has been at every training session, but Kyle Godwin and Dave Horwitz have been playing outstanding footy so it’s been tough to crack a starting spot. He’s pushed them all the way, and he’s a very likeable character who Paddy Ryan asks to say a few words to the boys every now and then, and he keeps the smile on our faces.”

Horwitz, David (8 games):
“Dave and I have played a lot of footy together, and his preparation is absolutely second to none. He’s always watching video, analysing players to find their weaknesses, and he is a very good Vice-Captain. When he delivers to the group, he’s always confident and shows that he knows what he is doing on the field. He’s a real strength of our team.”

Kellaway, Andrew (4 games):
“Kells did a grade two tear to his medial earlier in the year and missed a few games, but he has timed his run to be back for finals footy and to control that back three from fullback. His game speaks for itself; if he finds space, he’s hard to stop, and off the field he enjoys a swing of golf in North Bondi every so often.”

Latu, Tolu (5 games, 6 points):
“Tolu’s work ethic, and the way he dived into the NRC program in week one, showed that he was a bit disappointed with his Super Rugby season and not necessarily getting the game time he would have liked. He really took on the opportunity of this competition, and it’s deservedly paid dividends as he went on a trip with the Wallabies.”

McCauley, Ryan (7 games):
“The young buck has stepped up and taken the opportunity to play at a higher level with both hands. He’s a very skilful second rower with a massive future.”

Needs, Sam (7 games, 6 points):
“The Hitman gets extremely angry before a game, and you can tell that with his physicality on the field. He’s one bloke who you know will bring impact, and that’s exactly what you need from your bench players, so keep an eye on him in Tamworth.”

Newsome, Alex (7 games, 18 points):
“The Intercept King, Nobby has pulled us out of trouble a few times. His hand-eye coordination is freakish, and away from Rugby he likes riding horses and is a country boy through and through.”

O’Regan, Rohan (4 games, 6 points):
“He has worked hard through his rehab to return to action, and having him come back in has helped us massively. His workrate as a lock is exactly what you need, and I know if I am playing against him you try and steer clear of him cos he can absolutely belt you.”

Perry, Rowan (8 games, 12 points):
“His pilfering has pulled us out of a few risky situations. Rowan is in charge of the breakdown at the Eagles, and his expertise and professionalism around the ruck has suited us playing such a fast game plan. Everybody listens when he speaks, and if you go in a bit loose he’ll pinch it from you. He is super important to our team.”

Roberts, Angus (7 games):
“Gussy is a very good bloke, he’s always happy and always whacks the hand out, looks you in the eye and shakes it. His attitude has resonated throughout our whole squad, because in a young side we all look up to him and when he runs out in his home town of Tamworth he’ll feel a bit more and the boys will all lift.”

Robertson, Tom (3 games):
“It’s great to have Throbber back, on the back of a stellar Super Rugby season. He jumped into the NRC hard from week one, and it was great to have him back last week. He’s a massive advantage for us at the set piece.”

Robinson, Reece (8 games, 42 points):
“You only need to watch him for a few minutes to work out that if he gets in a bit of space, nobody’s catching him. He’s the bloke who can change the game for us, and if we can get the ball out to him the crowd will be standing up because something electric could be about to happen. He’s a senior figure in the side, and he has the respect of the full squad.”

Ryan, Paddy (7 games, 6 points):
“Can’t speak more highly of him, and the way in which he has captained this team. His balance between addressing the analytical and the emotional is spot on, and he’s very respected. As Captain, he was the right choice for the Eagles and hopefully he will be standing there proudly with the NRC trophy on Saturday.”

Ward, Sam (8 games, 12 points):
“Sammy Ward is a hard-hitting, hard-carrying player, and that’s exactly what you’re after in a Number Eight. He’s reliable at the back of the scrum, and he’s an integral part of the Eagles team and I think he’ll be pretty fired up this weekend."

So there you have it; the NSW Country Eagles as introduced by Ned Hanigan. As for the young utility forwards himself? Let’s just say he is a physical, dynamic forward who is a real larrikin off the pitch but a real asset on it, and despite the fact he will be sorely missed by his side in the Grand Final, he can take great pride in the role that he has played in helping his side qualify.
On behalf of RUPA, all the best to the NSW Country Eagles players this weekend.

19.10.16
Pete Fairbairn
Communications Manager
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