The ACT Brumbies preseason group has been strengthened by the club’s Elite Development Squad (EDS) group of identified up-and-coming talent from the ACT and interstate, as well as outstanding players from the Bentspoke John I Dent Cup.
Canberra local Shane Wilcox spent time with the club’s Super Rugby Pacific squad last season as he completed his studies at St. Edmund’s College, with the fullback training full-time with the club in 2023.
Wests pair Austin Anderson (centre) and Massimo De Lutiis (prop), Royals hooker Liam Bowron and backrower Lachie Hooper, the younger brother of ACT Brumbies lock Tom Hooper who joined the club having captained the NSW Waratahs academy side earlier this year, were named in the recent Junior Wallabies training squad.
Second rower Lachie Shaw joins the club this year from Queensland, the Brisbane Boys College product having also been named in the Junior Wallabies group in November.
Flyhalf Cullen Gray made a strong impression for both the Brumbies U18s and U19s in the number 10 jersey this year, the Australian-qualified Auckland Grammar school product having joined the club’s pathways program from New Zealand.
Junior Wallabies backrower Titi Nofoagatatoa joined the at the end of 2021 and was also selected to captain his country in the U20s campaign this year, but unfortunately missed the tournament through injury.
Tighthead prop Rhys Van Nek is another addition to the Brumbies EDS group, the 23-year-old having already had Super Rugby experience with the Melbourne Rebels.
That group are supported by emerging ACT Brumbies pathways players and a selection from the Bentspoke John I Dent Cup.
2022 champion with the Queanbeyan Whites Justin Sikimeti, Tuggeranong Vikings Remsy Lemisio (prop) Baden Godfrey (backrower) and Jack Wright (lock) and Uni-Norths Owls centre Angus Blackmore have added their talents to the Brumbies preseason group.
ACT product Matias Jensen played his rugby in the centres in Sydney this season, and is joined by fellow Shute Shield talent in prop Blake Schoupp (Southern Districts), Sam Thomson (Warringah) as well as Knox College midfielder Jarrah McLeod.
ACT Brumbies general manager professional rugby and pathways, Chris Thomson said: “Our EDS group is an integral part of our pathways program and while the main focus of preseason is to prepare for the 2023 season, this time is critical in developing these players for the future by providing exposure to our Super Rugby program and insights to the performance standards and behaviours required to succeed at this level.”
“Many of our current squad and indeed the players who represented the ACT with the Wallabies have benefited greatly from being part of the EDS program, so the pathway is there for these players to earn opportunities at senior level.
“Some will stay with the senior group throughout the season, others will come in and out through their selection and participation in Junior National programs, as well as playing a key role in the Brumbies Runners program and taking their learnings back to club rugby.”