Vikings training on Saturday afternoon. Wharenui Hawera Vikings training on Saturday afternoon. Wharenui Hawera
Wallabies scrumhalf Joe Powell could be a surprise inclusion to boost the Canberra Vikings as the newly-formed club prepares to start the National Rugby Championship season.
The Vikings will find out early this week if the Wallabies will clear Powell to play the season-opener against Queensland Country at Viking Park on Saturday.
ACT Brumbies skipper Sam Carter is also expected to use the first game of the NRC campaign to launch his bid for a Wallabies recall.
Powell has played just 126 minutes in the past three months after missing selection for the first two Bledisloe Cup matches and being used sparingly in the mid-year Test series.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opted for a No. 9 combination of Will Genia and Nick Phipps, despite Phipps struggling to break into the NSW starting side in the Super Rugby season.
Powell’s lack of game time will almost certainly see him join the VIkings given he hasn’t played a game since the Brumbies were knocked out of the Super Rugby finals in July.
The 23-year-old could reunite with Brumbies halves partner Wharenui Hawera, who has bypassed New Zealand’s provincial competition to play in his first NRC season.
New Zealand-born Hawera is keen to use the NRC to continue his development after being plucked from obscurity earlier this year to join the Brumbies as the club’s chief playmaker.
Hawera was one of only two players to play every game for the Brumbies, staying on the field for all but 15 of the 1280 minutes in his debut Super Rugby season.
Hawera hopes the less intense NRC environment will allow him to show his attacking spark as the next step in his career.
“I’m extremely excited … Playing Super Rugby there is a lot of pressure but I’m excited for the NRC and probably try to practice a few things I wasn’t able to do for the Brumbies,” Hawera said.
“Just looking to offload a bit more, run more and have a lot of support play. Rather than just dishing the ball out, looking for the second touch.
“From what I’ve heard, that’s what this competition is about – scoring points and having fun.
“Hopefully we can have a real crack. We’ve got a strong team on paper, but we’ve got to be able to put it out there. As a No. 10 and a leader, hopefully I can bring some flair and we can put it together.”
The Vikings will wear an ACT Kookaburras heritage jersey for the first game of the season in a bid to mend bridges and garner support in a divided Canberra rugby community.
There is still lingering angst about the Vikings Group taking ownership of the Canberra representative team.
The Vikings Group will spend $250,000 per season for the NRC licence after ending a three-way venture with the Brumbies and University of Canberra.
It is hoped a nod to the Kookaburras – the ACT’s traditional rugby representative team – and their colours will help build a new supporter base, while the Canberra junior rugby finals will be played as curtain-raisers to the NRC.
VIKINGS’ NRC DRAW
September 2: Canberra Vikings v Queensland Country at Viking Park, 1pm.
September 10: Canberra Vikings v Perth Spirit at Viking Park, 1pm.
September 17: Brisbane City v Canberra Vikings at UQ Rugby Club, Brisbane, 1pm.
September 23: NSW Country Eagles v Canberra Vikings at Bellevue Oval, Armidale, 1pm.
September 29: Canberra Vikings v Fiji at Viking Park, 7.30pm.
October 8: Melbourne Rising v Canberra Vikings at Frankston Park, Frankston, 1pm.
October 15: Canberra Vikings v Sydney Rays at Viking Park, 3pm.
October 29: Greater Sydney Rams v Canbera Vikings at TG Millner Oval, Sydney, 3pm.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.