Gungahlin Eagles Academy Wrap-up: 2021

Written by Eagles Academy Coach and Resident Pom, Stu Crew.

Well, that’s a wrap for the first year of the Gungahlin Eagles U20 Academy. Not how we wanted it to fizzle out, but it has still been an incredible journey.

Firstly, I would like to thank Marco Caputo for his effort, feedback and ongoing support of the Academy program and wish him and his family all the best as he moves on to pastures new.

I would also like to thank Lachie Staib and Chris Anastasiou for the work and support they have done in the nutrition and condition spaces. For the casual observer, these guys have been on call all season, answering questions, providing programs and even dipping into their own pockets to help. Having this level of commitment and support has been invaluable to the development of the players and their experience. I am truly humbled and thankful.

Now, onto the participants.

12 young players joined our ranks this year contributing a solid total of 346 points across the regular season, including 55 tries. Moses Faaola chalked up the biggest haul with a total of 62 which included 6 tries. Connor Rous was also prolific, keeping the scoreboard ticking over with a total of 58 points and Melvin Poseto deserves an honourable mention for a total of 9 tries!

We also had 8 representatives from the Academy take part in the Brumbies U19 trial, of which 6 were selected to continue in the program, training on Mondays at Brumbies HQ and following a strict S&C course. Unfortunately, the program was cut short due to the COVID situation, but the lads were really progressing well and I received great feedback on them. Hopefully, they continue down this path and the system recognises them for years to come.

As mentioned earlier, we had players represent all sides across the Black Squad set-up and the Women’s program. With Moses Poreo, Connor Rous, Nathanael Mooney, Titan Sega all getting starts in the John I Dent Cup and Connor Rous scoring on Debut against Wests was a great baptism of fire.

Laura Cameron was a standout all season in the Women’s team proving to punch well above her weight in defence. Laura is the first female of the Eagles Academy and has been a blueprint for success for future Eagles women as we look to grow the Women’s program and rugby talent through the academy.

Second grade was heavily influenced by the Academy with Moses Faaola doing much of the heavy lifting but was supported with points from Rous, Poreo and Sega and appearances from Lachie Tindale, Aisea Taupeamuhu, Nathanael Mooney and even the Coach getting a cameo.

Finally, let’s talk about the Minor Premiers from 2021 in the Colts competition this is where most of our lads played and what an impact they made.

A few things stood out for me over the year, one being the progress of a relative newcomer to the sport, Aisea Taupeamuhu. Keep an eye out for this guy in the next couple of years.

Lachie Tindale and Ryan Grocott were both exciting to watch in the back field and were supported by the ever-present Zeke Melmouth. Paul Faaola spent much of the season in the Centers and really grew into an asset as he found his way at the Eagles, with solid defense and a great ability to offload.

Closer to the action, Titan Sega and Melvin Posetta were a constant threat in the back row and the work they did on their conditioning was really starting to pay off.

Nathanael Mooney proved to be a great all-rounder in the scrum, playing in all three lines. Again, a threatening ball carrier all year and has progressed well on his goals around mobility and endurance.

Lastly, from me. I would like to congratulate all those involved in the program this year and thank everyone for their support in my transition from player to a coaching role. The players have been wonderfully patient as I have learned how to look differently at the game.

I think that this program still has plenty of scope to grow and improve and I am incredibly excited to see how far this year’s cohort go and to see what 2022 brings. If you know of any players who would benefit from the Academy then please feel free to get in touch with me or anyone within the club.

See you all next season!

Photos courtesy of Jayzie Photography

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