Warren Johnston is relishing his role as the inaugural coach of Shepparton Rugby Union Club.By Patrick O'Meara
Warren Johnston is relishing his role as the inaugural coach of Shepparton Rugby Union Club.
The new club, nicknamed the Bulls, is deep into pre-season preparations and Johnston couldn’t be happier with the progress.
‘‘Everything has been fantastic,’’ Johnston said.
‘‘We have got a committee which is very active and all of the players are very enthusiastic.’’
The Bulls were founded on the back of a Victorian Rugby Union meeting in Shepparton in October to gauge interest in creating a new club.
It came after a Cobram club folded, which had a strong contingent of Shepparton-based players.
Johnston, who has played rugby union in his native New Zealand, England and Australia, was appointed head coach shortly after, with Daniel Rose as his assistant.
The playing squad has expanded to a core group of 18.
Johnston said the playing group was diverse.
‘‘Eighty per cent of the boys are Samoan, then we have another from New Guinea, a bloke from Zimbabwe and a few Kiwis as well,’’ he said.
‘‘We might be getting a couple of Muslim boys as well.
‘‘There is a lot of talent in there as well.
‘‘The boys have been training really well and we are looking forward to a pretty positive season.’’
The Bulls will turn out in the VRU’s country division, which will boast teams from Bendigo, Deniliquin, Puckapunyal, Albury and potentially suburban Melbourne.
They will be based at Shepparton’s Vibert Reserve, where they have been completing pre-season training since November on Tuesday and Thursday nights.
On Tuesday the club held a session at Victoria Park Lake to raise awareness of the new outfit.
The Bulls have also been invited to participate in the Country Club Sevens at Geelong’s Kardinia Park on Saturday, February 9.
The game will be a curtain-raiser to the Super Rugby trial match between Melbourne Rebels and the Wellington Hurricanes.
Johnston said the team was ‘‘pretty excited’’ about playing before an elite clash.
He said, while not involved in nickname selection, the idea of the Bulls was born out of the region’s farming background.
‘‘We weren’t going to be known as the Shepparton Cows,’’ he said. ‘‘So they went with the Bulls.’’
Johnston said sponsors had been generous in helping the new club, but were still sought.
He said new players and supporters would also be welcomed.
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