Junior Gropers force their way into Nelson Bay Rugby top grade mens squad

Outstanding Nelson Bay rugby rookies Jack Lawson, Darcy Blue, Taj Turner, Khai Poulson and Jack Ballard have burst onto the Hunter Suburban Rugby top grade scene this season.

THEY may have experienced a rocky start to their title defence but the future is still looking bright for the Nelson Bay Gropers Rugby Club.

After bringing home premierships in the Men’s and Under 18 competitions last season, the much vaunted Gropers confirmed their status as the power base of Hunter Suburban Rugby.

Michael Wiringi’s star studded men’s squad were crowned undefeated champions in 2023 but have suffered two narrow losses in this year’s campaign after a tumultuous three rounds.

The signature of Kiwi playmaker Khace Petera and promotion of Under 18 premiership-winning trump cards Jack Lawson, Darcy Blue, Khai Poulson, Jack Ballard and nineteen-year-old wing sensation Taj Turner have bolstered the Gropers in their quest for back to back President’s Cup titles.

As he experiments with combinations in the early phases of the 2024 series, coach Wiringi has introduced a batch of promising teenage rookies that have grabbed their opportunity in the top grade with both hands.

“Several players from our triumphant Under 18s class of ’23 have forced their way into the men’s squad with strong performances which augurs well for the season ahead,” the experienced mentor told News Of The Area.

“All of them hail from our junior Pathways Program and have transitioned smoothly into the top grade, adding plenty of zest and skill to the men’s lineup that is rich in experience,” reflected Wiringi.

In rising hooker forward Lawson, number eight Blue, utility back Poulson, centre or half back Ballard and gun back Turner the Gropers have five of the best young prospects to emerge from the Nelson Bay junior rugby nursery in many a year.

Lawson, Turner, Poulson and Ballard all made their top grade debuts against Cooks Hill in the opening round fixture at Bill Strong Oval while emerging flanker Blue was blooded in the seniors the following week in a Grand Final replay clash against Singleton Red Bulls.

“They each bring enthusiasm and vitality to our squad and will prove huge assets to our club as they mature and broaden their skill sets in the seniors competition,” said Wiringi.

“All five colts have loads of potential, are excellent students of the game and share a strong passion for Nelson Bay Rugby Club which are fine traits for rookies at this level,” the lauded coach exclaimed.

By Chris KARAS

Leave a Reply