Despite not winning a single game in first grade, the Penrith Emus hope to build on last year’s efforts as a club as they enter their second season in Canberra’s John I Dent Cup.
After being unfairly axed from Sydney’s Shute Shield competition in 2021, the Emus were given a lifeline last season by the ACT & SNSW Rugby Union to join the Brumbies’ feeder competition.
While their first grade side failed to chalk up a win, Penrith’s Colts and Women’s teams both made the Finals in what was an incredible year for the pair.
With the 2023 John I Dent Cup season set to kick off this Saturday, Penrith Emus President Gary McColl is expecting continued improvement across the board.
“We want to keep building from the ground up. We want our Colts to be strong again, so they can move up to first grade. Four of our Colts made the Brumbies U19’s squad last year, which was a great achievement,” he said.
With former New Zealand rugby player and coach Ronnie Patea back at the helm, recruitment has been strong at the Emus during the off-season.
“The coaching staff are now more experienced and they know what to expect,” McColl said.
“Last year every team we played was an unknown but we now know what the strengths and weaknesses of our opposition are.
“In first grade we’ve recruited some new players and we’re hoping they will deliver. We also have plenty of guys coming back with only a couple moving on.”
The Emus will make the three-hour journey from Nepean Rugby Park to Phillip Oval in the ACT this Saturday morning ahead of their 3.05pm clash against the Canberra Royals.
It’ll be a tough start for the Emus to kick off the season, playing last year’s Grand Finalists in back-to-back weeks.
“On Saturday we play the Royals in Canberra, who made the Grand Final last season, and the following weekend we play defending Premiers Queanbeyan at home, so two tough games to start it off,” McColl told the Weekender.
“Every club that visited us at Nepean Rugby Park last year really enjoyed it. We tried to be accommodating and welcoming, so what was really good.”
Oh and we checked, the world-famous Emusburgers will be back for next Saturday’s big home opener at Nepean Rugby Park!
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.