Newcastle rugby: Hamilton fly-half has eyes on grand prize

FOCUSED: Dane Sherratt returns to the Hawks' No.10 jumper against Wanderers at Passmore Oval on Saturday. Picture: Stewart Hazell

FOCUSED: Dane Sherratt returns to the Hawks' No.10 jumper against Wanderers at Passmore Oval on Saturday. Picture: Stewart Hazell

SOUTH African-born fly-half Dane Sherratt happily admits that he went to Newcastle and Hunter rugby union powerhouse Hamilton for the chance to win some silverware.

In 20 years of playing rugby, both in Cape Town and in Newcastle previously for The Waratahs, the classy playmaker has never won a premiership.

Back surgery cut short his last finals experience in 2016 when the Tahs were bundled out in the minor semi-final. The season before, Sherratt’s first in Newcastle, they went down to Hamilton in the preliminary final.

This season, the Tahs dropped back to Divisional rugby, where they are the runaway leaders, and Sherratt was among a handful of players to join another Premier club.

“That was one of the reasons I went to Hamilton; to try and play for some silverware,” the 26-year-old said. “To get the minor premiership is a good start. We have been winning convincingly but I still don’t think we are at 100 per cent yet. We need to get our execution in place for the finals.”

Hamilton meet Wanderers, their foes in the past three grand-final wins, at Passmore Oval in the final round on Saturday.

Sherratt returned from a three-game stint on the sideline with a broken nose in the Hawks’ 68-18 triumph over Southern Beaches.

“I got the all clear from the surgeon last Wednesday,” Sherratt said. “The specialist told me not to hesitate and that it would take a big knock to break it again. To be honest, I wasn’t too happy that I only got 30 minutes. I made sure I got involved as soon as I got out there.”

Sherratt set up a try with his first touch, taking the ball to the line down the short side.

“He was out to prove a point and win back his spot,” Hamilton coach Scott Coleman said. “He really flattens up our attack and squares it up. Everyone talks about his kicking game, but his running game is quite good. We are trying to find the right balance. He can overplay his hand some times. We have some rock stars in the backs. We have to work out when to tuck it under the arm and go up the middle and when to let it sing and give early ball to the game breakers.”

Sherratt is one of three changes alongside halfback Noah Church and winger Kirosome Laulal to the Hawks side that thumped Beaches.

“We have a couple of different things we want to try,” Coleman said. “We will look at playing blokes in different positions at different starter plays and things like that.”

Fifth-placed Wanderers can leapfrog Nelson Bay, who have the bye, but are guaranteed to meet the Gropers in the elimination final.

“We are looking at combinations for the week after,” Wanderers coach Darren Young said. “Like every week, we want to win. For us to progress and possibly win the thing, we have to beat everyone. We will be giving our all to make sure we are in a good frame win, lose or draw for the finals.”

Elsewhere Saturday, Maitland travel to Lake Macquarie, Southern Beaches host Merwether and Uni host Singleton.