This Saturday the Queanbeyan Whites will again kick off their John I Dent Cup competition campaign and will hope to go one step further in first grade. It will be a huge year for the club after making the grand final in all grades except for first grade in 2013. Including their women, they took out four premierships. Queanbeyan Age sports reporter Joshua Matic caught up with first grade coach Adam Fahey to see how his men and the club were looking this year.
JM: Adam, your first game is against the Canberra Royals, grand finalists from last year, but your boys were not too far behind in placing third. How do you see this clash?
AF: Both sides have had a number of changes personnel wise, but we're quietly confident. We've had a good couple of weeks at training and we've got a lot of players back on deck who had some niggling injuries. We're confident about over-stepping the mark for this time of year. There's a little bit of the unknown heading into round one, being the start of the competition, but we think we've done the hard work to get the competition points this season.
JM: You played a tough trial match in Cowra about a month ago now where the boys were tested in a bruising loss. Have you played any other trial games since?
AF: We played Gungahlin the week after which was a pretty even contest, and then we played the Vikings the week following. They were both good games and gave us an opportunity to see where we're at, and what we need to work on. After trials the goal is to rectify those things, so hopefully that will show against the Royals in round one. We'll find that out at 5pm on Saturday.
JM: Skipper Dan Penca had a great workload last season in leading the forward pack against some of the best in NSW/ACT club rugby. Will his primary job be to do that again?
AF: It wouldn't matter what job you asked him to do, he would do it for us. That's why he's the skipper. He works very hard and you never have to tell him to do anything. Whatever it is, he'll go hard for it.
JM: Is Sam Windsor your biggest loss for this season?
AF: It is a loss, but when you lose players you can't focus on what's not there. You've got to focus in what is there, and with the losses of some of our key personnel I think a lot of our young kids will step up, and it gives them an opportunity and they'll be up for it.
JM: Who would you like to see fill Windsor's shoes at fullback this season?
AF: Brendon Spears has put his hand up. He's a real utility player with a lot of skills which is a bonus, and he's put a lof of effort in at training so he's committed which is great.
JM: Young centre Keith Morgan is set to make his first grade debut against the Royals this weekend. What avenue has he come through?
AF: He came through the St Edmonds College system. He's played Australian Schoolboys and played combined state under 20's this year with players from Victoria, WA, and ACT. He's a Braidwood boy and a young kid we've had on our radar for quite some time and we've got him to the club which is great. He'll start at inside-centre for us this week.
JM: The Whites' Colts program has produced much quality over the years, reflecting four grade premierships last year. How is that being utilised this season?
AF: A number of kids this year have come up through the Colts program and pushed their way into first grade. Brendon Spears, Toby Wilson and Billy Chalker have all come through there. You can talk about the strength of a Colts program over the last five years has been able to produce quality first graders year in year out. Reflected is our depth that saw five grand final teams last year.