Rejuvenated Roos embrace return to Lionel Morten Oval

Karuah Roos 2016 premiership-winning team includes five current players in Dwayne Fleming, Daniel Evans, Mitchell O’Brien, Sam Croese and Mitchell Napier.

LIONEL Morten Oval is situated in Karuah, a quiet holiday destination beside the Karuah River and gateway to the northern arm of Port Stephens.

For many years it has proved a “fortress” for the historic Karuah Roos Rugby League Football Club and “graveyard” for visiting teams during the winter months.

COVID-19 and NSW’s big wet has played havoc with Newcastle Hunter Rugby League competition fixtures in recent seasons with the Roos teams being forced to travel to either the Mallabula and Tomaree Sports Complexes for home matches due to the closure of grounds.

But with their home base back in operation the Roos have a spring in their step in anticipation of a successful 2023 campaign.

“Being back at our spiritual home in front of our loyal supporters is a huge fillip for the Roos,” Club President Daniel Evans told News Of The Area.

“Playing at Lionel Morten Oval has proved a huge factor in our success over the years and traditionally gives our teams a decisive competitive edge,” Daniel revealed.

“We look forward to hosting matches there again this season and making full use of the ground,” he said.

The Roos will field both Open Men’s and Women’s teams in 2023 in the Newcastle Northern Conference competitions and for the first time in 30 years have registered an Under 10s side in the Hunter Junior League.

This season also marks the 10th anniversary of the Karuah club re-forming after a short hiatus in the early 2000s with the Roos planning a host of events to celebrate the milestone.

In an interesting move the Roos have named Dwayne Fleming and Hayden Thompson as co-player coaches of the Open Men’s squad for this season.

Club stalwart Fleming – the Roos’ long serving coach and crafty hooker – will be joined by the astute Thompson, a representative rugby back rower with top credentials.

Fleming is one of five survivors of the Roos’ 2016 premiership-winning team, along with Club President Daniel Evans, goal kicking half back Sam Croese, dashing fullback Mitchell O’Brien and centre/back rower Mitchell Napier.

The elusive O’Brien – a multiple Players’ Player Award recipient – heads the array of talent in the Men’s squad that boasts a nice blend of youth and experience.

A fierce competitor on field, O’Brien has produced superb performances in the custodian role with his vision, copybook defence and attacking skills a feature.

Other players to watch include the reliable Croese, a smart playmaker with a radar boot who was instrumental in the club’s 2016 premiership triumph and sharp centre-winger Jack Fleming, son of coach Dwayne, who adds thrust and pace to the back division.

For number seven Croese it shapes as a busy year.

As well as calling the shots for the Men’s team, an exuberant Sam has joined the club’s coaching ranks – fostering a new generation of Roos players in the club’s Under 10s side in 2023.

Club legend Evans will hand over the coaching reins of the Karuah Open Women’s team to Dylan Foley.

The Women will compete in this year’s B Grade competition and will again be a force with the likes of seasoned Newcastle representatives in prop Jess Neilson – a descendent of legendary player-official Lionel Morten – utility Lowanna McDougall, hooker/half Hayley Dews, dynamic fullback Ebony Oakley and prop Taquiah Lukaszewicz on board.

By Chris KARAS

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