Former Wallabies captain Ben Mowen is tipping Mac Grealy to light up Brisbane club rugby this season as the grassroots game takes centre stage.
Former Wallabies captain Ben Mowen is tipping teenage sensation Mac Grealy to light up Brisbane club rugby this season as the grassroots game takes centre stage on Saturday.
In the most comprehensive club rugby coverage in Australian history, Stan Sport will broadcast every match of both Brisbane’s Hospital Challenge Cup and Sydney’s Shute Shield competitions.
It is a mouthwatering prospect for rugby fans and Grealy is one of many rising stars to watch strutting their stuff in club land.
Grealy is contracted to the Reds but plays his club rugby for the University of Queensland.
And Mowen has had a close look at the excitement machine through his work as the Junior Wallabies assistant coach.
“There’s never any shortage of talent coming through our pathways and a really special player for me, that will play in the Hospital Challenge Cup this year will be Mac Grealy for Uni,” Mowen told Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven.
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“He’s a fullback, really electric player, he’s been in and around the Reds a little bit.
“Still only 19, I think he’s going to be an important player for Aussie rugby moving forward. So this is going to be a good year for him to not only play for Uni in the Hospital Cup but then to push on and play for Australia (under-20s) later in the year.”
Mowen, the loose forward who played 15 Tests for Australia and was captain in 2013-14, explained why it was so important to end his career with the Tigers.
“Most guys’ rugby journeys start in club land and it’s always been a pretty unique connection for me,” Mowen said.
“My dad played at Easts, my brother played at Easts, all my uncles played at Easts so I really wanted to finish off and have a strong year. As my friends kept reminding me, I was the only one of our mates who hadn’t won a premiership for the Tigers so I had a bit of leftover work to do.”
Easts kick off their 2021 campaign against Sunnybank at 3.05pm AEST on Saturday.
Mowen said that despite his retirement the Tigers would “certainly be strong” again and added that some young colts would take a lot of confidence from beating Shute Shield holders Gordon in the Australian Club Championship last month.
The 36-year-old said Uni and Brothers would push Easts hard again “but for me the dark horse this year is probably going to be Wests.”
“Bit of change in their coach and management but they’ve got a much stronger squad than they’ve had in previous years,” Mowen said.
“So I think they’ll be one of the sides that will move up through the pack and really challenge that top four.”
Meanwhile, in Sydney, Gordon will have to defend their title without highly successful coach Darren Coleman, who is guiding the LA Giltinis in Major League Rugby.
Coleman also took several of his best players to LA in Mahe Vailanu, Harrison Goddard and Charlie Abel.
Sydney University will smell an opportunity to return to the winner’s circle and their injured captain, Rohan O’Regan, said his team-mates were pumped at the partnership with Stan.
“It’s really exciting,” O’Regan told Stan’s Rugby Heaven show.
“There’s a few lads that like being on the tele so it makes things better for them.
“It’s good to have some more content and just some more exposure for the Shute Shield and rugby in general.”
Sydney Uni’s round one game on Saturday is an intriguing match-up against the Hunter Wildfires, who have recruited strongly with the likes of Leon Fukofuka, Henry Stowers, Kirk Tufuga and Olajuwon Noa.
“We had an alright year last year but didn’t get there at the end,” O’Regan said.
“(Coach) Rob’s (Taylor) brought back a lot of hard work which was always part of Uni’s DNA, working hard for one another and trying to get back to that final game and hopefully lift that trophy at the end of the year.”
O’Regan said he was 2-3 months away from returning to the park following a shoulder reconstruction.
HOSPITAL CHALLENGE CUP, ROUND ONE (all Saturday 3.05pm AEST kick-offs)
GPS v Souths
University of Queensland v Brothers
Easts v Sunnybank
Bond University v Norths
SHUTE SHIELD, ROUND ONE (all Saturday 3.05pm AEST kick-offs)
Sydney University v Hunter
Penrith v Northern Suburbs
West Harbour v Randwick
Eastern Suburbs v Southern Districts
Eastwood v Western Sydney
Manly v Gordon
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