Bond’s Colts division has played a crucial role during the club’s current injury crisis. PICTURE: Stephen Tremain
THIS weekend’s bye could not have come at a better time for Bond University Rugby Club.
The Bull Sharks’ three men’s teams and two colts’ sides have been decimated by injury across the 12 rounds so far. The most telling indication of the casualty queue is the fact that 48 players have run on for First Grade to date in 2021.
“That number is unheard of,” said Head coach Grant Anderson.
“In all my years of playing and coaching I have not seen so many players being required in the one grade due to injuries. Other long-term coaches at the club are saying the same thing.
“In comparison, last year we used 34 players. Although that was a Covid-shortened season it still gives you an idea of how bad 2021 is.
“We have not run on with the same 15 once this year. And of course that injury toll hurts you in a lot of areas.
“Not only do you lose quality players, but of course cohesion and consistency suffers.
“All grades are affected. So far this year we have used 101 players in Firsts, Seconds and Thirds. Colts also become part of the damage control. We have used 18 Under 20 players in the seniors. So, the dominoes fall through all of the club’s sides.”
Despite that injury anchor the Bull Sharks are faring well on the points ladders. The current positions are: First Grade – 3rd; Second Grade – 2nd; Third Grade – 6th; Colts 1 – 3rd; Colts 2 – 4th; Women’s First Grade – 3rd.
“That is outstanding, considering the number of players we have had out of action,” said Anderson.
“The club is in a great position running into the finals and hopefully getting more players back before then.”
The injury toll positives
Anderson said the injury flood had also unearthed some genuine positives at the heart of the young club.
“It has highlighted what great depth we have here and also the remarkable attitude of players,” he said.
“The chopping and changing is hard on everyone, but the players have handled it really well. They have embraced the opportunity to play at a higher level and have risen to the occasion.
“That has especially been the case with the younger players. Many have been blooded ahead of time. The positive to that is they now know what is expected at that higher level. They know the requirements needed on and off the field. So, this situation will only strengthen this club.
“We have a bunch of players who are ready now for the next step.
“And it’s not only the youngsters. Former international Lloyd Johansson plays second grade for us and is a great mentor for the younger players. At 36, that is a role he really enjoys.
“Well, I had to call on him for First Grade last weekend against Sunnybank and he showed what a great player he still is. As the saying goes, ‘Class is permanent’.
Second Grade leading the way
Anderson said the current the club’s Second Grade had been the most affected by the injury trauma.
“I really do take my hat off to those boys,” he said. “They have been exceptional.
“Despite all they have been through they are playing great rugby and are in second place. The accolades there must go to coach Damon Virtue, who is an outstanding coach.
“All teams will benefit when we start getting players back, but I am really keen to see just how good our seconds are going to be.”
Third Grade now ‘a must’
Anderson also applauded the work of two highly regarded club board members, Terry Jackman and Bob Gordon, who were the vocal champions behind the formation of the Third Grade side last year.
“The reasons why Terry and Bob wanted this team as part of Bond are the reasons they have been such a success,” he said.
“Not only have they given us more depth, which has been crucial this year, but they have brought so much to the heart of this club. These players are on the field at 10.50am then lead the culture for the rest of the day, because many are still here at the end of the day.
“We needed to test the water with the Thirds, to see if they were sustainable. They have proven to be far more than that, they are now an essential part of the club.”
Local links are crucial
Anderson said the club’s relationship with the Gold Coast district competition was also proving beneficial to both entities.
He said Bond provided a crucial stepping stone on the player pathway on the Gold Coast.
“If a player wants to play at the highest club level without having to leave the Gold Coast, he or she can do that through Bond,” he said.
“With a unique dual registration system players can now play for Bond and for the local clubs. We have numerous Colts players who go up and down between their local club and Bond every weekend.
“You also have the situation where players who have played at a higher level through Bond decide at the latter stages of their career to go back to their local club, bringing vital leadership and experience.
“The pathway is working very well. We have several current Bond players who are part of the Reds system, who came from local Gold Coast and northern NSW clubs.”
Women’s program success
The Bond women’s side also are feeling the effects of a player drain, however theirs is not purely injury-based.
Last weekend the Bull Sharks had 11 players on representative duty, however they all should be back for Round 14 against GPS.
“The Bond women’s rugby program under coaching director Setu Naseri has kicked plenty of goals this year in both 7s and 15s,” said Anderson.