Nelson Bay Rugby unearth three young local workhorses in quest for Hunter Suburban title

Nelson Bay Rugby’s emerging forward trio of Lewis Affleck, Mitch Workman and Ronan O’Connell have turned in outstanding performances in the 2024 Hunter Suburban Men’s competition.

NELSON Bay Rugby Club’s youth drive is reaping plenty of dividends in the Hunter Suburban Rugby Men’s competition.

Head Coach Michael Wiringi has blooded a host of rookies this season to complement his experienced senior players in a new look Gropers line up that still exudes class and power.

Three forwards to make an impact are talented number eight Mitch Workman, flanker Ronan O’Connell and lock Lewis Affleck.

All three grew up together, honed their rugby craft in the Nelson Bay Juniors system and share a special bond.

The hard working trio have been best mates since their days at Tomaree Public School and graduated into the club’s first grade ranks from the Hunter Rugby Premier Three division.

Since their elevation to the top grade the emerging colts have built a reputation for having a strong work ethic, never-say-die attitude, punishing defence and “big motors” in the Nelson Bay engine room.

Workman and O’Connell are both 22-years-old and went through primary and high school together at Tomaree with former Groper Mitch Affleck, the elder brother of twenty-year-old Lewis.

Club officials identified the promising trio from an early age with Workman starting his career in Under 8s, O’Connell in under 12s and the industrious Affleck showing plenty of potential from the day he first laced on a boot.

They were plucked from the Juniors to play grade rugby in 2022 before taking a gap year out of the code and have relished their return to the Suburban competition.

Refreshed and bulked up, the trio are the unsung heroes in a Nelson Bay team ravaged by injuries and overseas departures by key forwards that are starting to hit their straps in pursuit of the 2024 President’s Cup trophy.

Workman has already racked up 25 appearances for the Gropers with O’Connell (23) and Affleck (18) also making the most of their opportunities in senior company.

Mitch and Lewis hail from good stock – they are the sons of Nelson Bay Rugby legends Anthony Workman and Dave Affleck, who were a tough and skilful lock and centre in their heyday.

Outside of rugby both Mitch and Ronan enjoy marathon running and have entered the upcoming Hunter Valley Marathon where they’ll test their endurance skills.

But their immediate goal is helping the premiers extend a golden winning streak in this Saturday’s top of the table clash with Singleton Red Bulls at Bill Strong Oval.

The Gropers received a forfeit victory over Singleton Black last weekend and are primed to exact revenge against the Reds for a 15-10 second round loss at Rugby Park earlier this season.

By Chris KARAS

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