Dolphins get the pride back
RUGBY UNION: Pride in the jumper is paramount as FNC rugby union looks to return to its representative glory days of the 1990s.
Fed up with mediocre results in recent years, the Dolphins have looked to their past to secure their future with a pair of former players entrusted the task of urging players to bleed for their region.
Dave Arthur and Dave Graham toiled for the Dolphins in the early 1990s under now Waratahs coach Chris Hickey.
Arthur ended up captaining the side which took out the Richardson Shield at the NSW Country Championships in 1996 and has reunited with Graham in a bid to drive FNC rugby back to the top – where they say it belongs.
Team manager Arthur says the zone has instilled a new professional attitude to representative rugby and the results are already showing.
“In the lead-up to this season we called all the players we wanted involved and spoke about our ideas,” Arthur said.
“The numbers we have had turn up at training tell a story; there have been upwards of 30 players and they are all keen to make a fist of it.”
The new coaching team, led by John Jenkins, used local rugby stalwarts such as Sam Stewart and Jeff Wilson to build the professional profile of the team and lure talent.
“Getting those blokes to training was a key,” Arthur said.
“They are like magnets; they’ve been there and done that so it sent a message to the rest of the players that we were serious about this.”
While the veterans have been called in to play a leading role, the coaches’ plan is as much about the future as any-thing else.
“The fact that we are taking a long-term approach excites people,” he said.
“We intend to establish a tour for a development squad and really get the junior rep teams up and running.”
Scheduled to play the Gold Coast Breakers as the curtain-raiser to the Waratahs v Reds Super 14 trial on Saturday evening, the Dolphins’ preparations have hit full pace in the past week.
“That has been another bonus; the boys are pumped to play in front of what should be a pretty big crowd,” Arthur said.
While the Dolphins would love to get off to a flyer with a win over the visiting Breakers, Arthur is looking further down the track where they have bigger fish to fry.
“We have Hunter in the first round of the NSW Country Championships and we aim to beat them.”
It’s a big ask – Hunter were the NSW Country champions last year – but that only goes to show how serious Arthur and the new regime are.