Dewar Shield grand finalists, the Box Hill Broncos, have capped off a remarkable season with four players named in the match-day twenty-three for the Melbourne Rising.
Despite losing 37-15 to Melbourne Unicorns in Saturday’s Dewar Shield Grand Final, Box Hill halves Delai Moto and Michael Maloney have been named to start Round One of the NRC this Saturday against the Canberra Vikings.
Fellow Broncos Joseva Timani and Lolohea Loco will make their presence felt via the replacement bench.
Aiding their nerves somewhat is the fact that the quartet will be appearing for the Rising on their home ground, RHL Sparks Reserve, Box Hill.
“It’ll be really interesting to see how Delai and Michael in particular step up from Dewar Shield rugby to the demands of NRC,” said Rising Head Coach Pom Simona.
“Their form this season at club level demanded our attention and it’s not until you test guys against the best that you’ll ever understand what they’re capable of."
Dewar Shield champions Melbourne Unicorns also feature four players in the matchday 23, with starting XV players Esei Haangana, Maciu Nabolakasi and William Lewesi joined by reserve outside back Lolohea Loco.
“Twelve of our guys played Dewar Shield this year, so many of these guys are already familiar with each other, either having played together as team mates or against each other.
“They know each other’s games well,” said Simona.
The Vikings have a squad packed with talent and this represents the perfect opportunity for the Rising coaches to gauge the potential of their youngsters, according to Simona.
“Those club guys will be surrounded by plenty of experience, particularly in our tight five. All six of our front row players have Super Rugby experience, so that’ll come in handy at set piece time.”
Starting at inside centre, twenty-year-old captain Semisi Tupou will be tasked leading a backline that boasts only one other Super Rugby capped player.
“It’s really exciting to be surrounded by young and enthusiastic guys,” confessed Tupou.
“We know that playing in familiar surroundings and being supported by our friends, family and club supporters will give us extra motivation. Many of these guys played the Dewar Shield grand final here at Box Hill just last weekend.
“Playing in front of a packed hill at RHL Sparks will certainly get our blood pumping.”
Helping give some insight into the opposition this weekend is a former Viking who will start for the Rising on the bench.
“Rodney (Iona) has obviously played Super Rugby with the Brumbies, so his knowledge of some of the Vikings players will be important for us,” stated Tupou.