Nelson Bay rugby stalwart Danny Murphy to mentor new wave of Gropers half backs

Legendary Nelson Bay rugby half back Danny Murphy with star pupils Jack Ballard, Jake Langsford and Khace Petera.

ORGANISING team mates on a rugby field has become second nature for Nelson Bay Gropers journeyman Danny Murphy.

That competitive edge and desire to educate a new generation of rising young half backs still flickers for the evergreen playmaker who at 45 years of age is one of the longest survivors in NSW Suburban top grade rugby.

With over 400 matches under his belt in a decorated career that has spanned three decades, the stalwart number nine remains a vital cog in coach Michael Wiringi’s plans during this year’s Hunter Rugby Suburban series.

After helping the Gropers lift the Presidents Cup premiership trophy in his debut season with the club last year, the experienced Murphy will focus on a new mentoring role for the 2024 campaign.

The injury-riddled half back has taken a back seat while tutoring the Gropers’ current crop of exciting young halves that have burst onto the Suburban Rugby first grade scene.

A super fit Murphy commenced the season as the Gropers’ team general before stepping back to give outstanding number nine rookies Khace Petera, Jack Ballard and Jake Langsford an opportunity to show their wares in the top grade.

The popular clubman told News Of The Area that nurturing the Gropers’ new wave of young talent was “a proud honour”.

“I’m really enjoying the role and relishing the chance to work with emerging juniors like Khace, Jack and Jake and help them develop their skills in senior company,” revealed Danny, who played ten seasons with the Penrith Emus in the Sydney Rugby competition.

“We have a wealth of talent bubbling through from our triumphant Under 18s premiership-winning colts of last season including a special group of halves that have the skills and vision to go a long way,” said the wily veteran who has locked horns with some of the toughest warriors in NSW Rugby over the years.

“I am so lucky to be involved with a traditional club like Nelson Bay that boasts a great playing culture and team spirit that is second to none,” he added.

Murphy was discovered as a fifteen year old playmaker at St Columba’s College in Springwood before forcing his way into the Penrith Colts squads.

He was graded by the Emus in 1999 and graduated to first grade ranks where he honed his skills in the premier NSW Shute Shield arena.

After chalking up ten years service and 250 appearances for Penrith, the crafty number nine linked with the Warnervale Wildcats and Avoca Sharks in the Central Coast Rugby competition.

Danny helped steer the Sharks to a third grade premiership in 2019 before moving to Medowie and piloting the Marauders to a Hunter Suburban championship the following season.

Today the highly regarded Murphy is a valuable asset for the Nelson Bay club and predicts a bright future ahead.

“We have overcome a slow start to the 2024 season and now have a settled top grade line up bristling with a fine mix of experience and youth that are hungry for more success,” he declared.

Last Saturday’s top of the table clash with Singleton Red Bulls at Bill Strong Oval was cancelled due to the ‘big wet’ but the legendary half still believes the Gropers are the team to beat for this year’s title.

By Chris KARAS

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