The Bull Sharks back row, including Declan Dinnen (pictured), is key to victory over UQ. PICTURE: Stephen Tremain
By Pat McLeod
Bond University’s Premier men’s rugby team will draw inspiration from Indigenous mentor and cultural advocate Narelle Urquhart in their bid to end University of Queensland’s perfect season at The Canal on Saturday.
Urquhart, Bond’s Indigenous Engagement Advisor, took the club’s entire playing squad through her emotional life journey at Thursday night’s training session, as part of the club’s celebration of Indigenous culture.
“More than anything, Narelle speaking to us really put things into perspective,” said Head Coach Grant Anderson.
“Especially around the fight the Aboriginal people have had to gain equality in Australia. But what was really sobering from our blokes’ point of view was that it was not that long ago. She spoke about her mum, who was part of the Stolen Generation. That could be any one of our players’ mothers.
“Narelle designed the special commemorative jerseys we will wear on Saturday. She explained the design and how it portrays the special connection that indigenous people have to country.
“There is perspective, but there is also a synergy that we understand - the connection between our players and their team and club.”
Anderson will draw on that special connection in what he describes as a ‘massive game in our season’.
This is Round 15 of an 18-round season. UQ are undefeated and sit at the top of the Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Cup on 65 points. Meanwhile the Bull Sharks are in a logjam for third and fourth spots. GPS are safely in second position on 57 points.
Bond (36 points) are involved in a three-way tussle for third and fourth with Brothers (38) and Wests (36). One of these three teams will miss the finals.
“We know how tight the table is and we are targeting this as a massive game in our season,” said Anderson. “I think that the way we have prepared this week will put us in a really good position against UQ.
“They are playing with a lot of confidence and are undefeated. Everyone is expecting them to win. But we are looking to upset their perfect season and secure our spot in the top four.
“I think teams allow them (UQ) to play too much and we certainly targeted our defence this week to take the initiative away from them. I think if you put them under pressure, limit our errors and get some possession in the A zone, we will really challenge them this week.
“It is the difference between respecting a team and giving them too much respect. There is a certain respect to be given to UQ. They are the most successful team in the competition in the last decade. They have a plethora of first grade players to choose from and they are really well coached.
“But we are confident in our own ability to play good football against them and get a result on Saturday.
“The one thing that we know about our team, our club, is that we fight really hard for each other. We never give in and never stop trying regardless of what the score is. There is a lot on the line this weekend. We play for the Brailsford-Brown Cup, it is our Indigenous Round and we will also be celebrating the university’s first rugby premiership by staging a reunion of the 1990 Colts team.”
The Bull Sharks welcome back backline flyer Joey Fittock to the wing in just the one change for this round.
“With Byron (Hutchinson) at 15 and Dion (Samuela) on the other wing we have a really potent, attacking back three,” said Anderson. “UQ are also strong in those positions with Mac Grealy at 15 and the Oates brothers (Kye and BJ) on the wings.
“We will really need to match their back row. UQ’s Sam Wallis and Angus Scott-Young are both contracted Reds players and their captain Pat Morrey is also a very good player. But I have every confidence in our back row - Dylan Rowe, Connor Pritchard and Declan Dinnen.
“Also, our set piece has to gain dominance over UQ as well.”
Anderson said all of Bond’s six teams had compelling reasons to win on Saturday, setting up a thrilling day of rugby from the first game – Colts 2 at 9.30am.
The fourth-placed Bull Sharks Premier Division women’s team will be keen to keep the winning momentum going when they take on UQ (7th).
Bond Men’s second grade (2nd) face a tough task against table-topping UQ, however they will be keen to etch any points from this encounter with four other teams snapping at their heels.
Third grade are in eighth place (19 points), but within striking distance of UQ, sixth on 25 points.
The Bull Sharks Colts 1 are fourth on 45 points and face a desperate UQ, fifth on 37 points.
The fifth-placed Bond Colts 2 have run into some exciting form, but face a stiff test against UQ (second).