HAMILTON coach Scott Coleman has used the $11,000 Mick “Whale” Curry Sevens tournament as a springboard into the Hawks’ Newcastle and Hunter Rugby Union premiership campaign.
The Hawks were runner-up to Manly in the inaugural year in 2015 and have won the Country title in the past two installments. Each year they have gone on to win the NHRU premiership.
Coleman has handed the first grade reins to David Clarke, but remains at the helm of the sevens program. Winning their annual tournament, which is being held at St John Oval on Saturday, and unveiling players for Clarke is a priority.
“Playing seven is the best pre-season training,” Coleman said. “It tests all aspects of the game at speed.”
Hamilton have two teams in the 14-team Country division, which also features Maitland, Nelson Bay and Southern Beaches.
Regulars Sireli Bainivalu, Liam Faughlin and Joe Akkersdyk will lead the Hawks’ charge and Coleman is also looking forward to seeing new boys Tom Coupe and Angus Brown.
Coupe’ is a Belgium sevens representative and has played at the iconic event in Hong Kong. Brown, the son of NHRU board member Luke, has returned to Newcastle from Sydney.
“Tom is a big athletic back-rower but is still pretty raw,” Coleman said. “He is good friends with lock Mathieu Verschelden, who returns home in a month or so. Angus has been the stand out of the pre-season.”
Shute Shield premiers Warringah will be favourites in the Premier Division which includes fellow Sydney clubs West Harbour, Gordon, Easts and the Malaysian national side, who are also playing in next weekend’s Lake Macquarie event as preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
Hamilton has formed an alliance with Kiama sevens (February 24). If the same team wins both tournaments they receive a $5,000 bonus.
Women’s and under-19s divisions will also be contested. The country final is set down for 5.40pm with the premiere finale at 6.20pm.