Rams on the charge
The NSW/ACT Rams will be relying on much more than the luck of the Irish as they attempt to take it up to the best in the TAC Cup this season.
With former Sydney Swans superstar Tadhg Kennelly at the helm, the Rams will play seven games in total throughout the year, giving a talented list of youngsters every opportunity to impress in the country’s premier under-age competition.
Along with a select group of supremely gifted footballers, the Rams are hoping detailed planning and a highly experienced coaching team gives them the edge this year.
Supporting the Irish export is two former teammates in Jason Saddington and Michael O’Loughlin, men Kennelly said had much more than just football knowledge to pass on.
“At this age, the balance is really important,” Kennelly said.
“With so much travel involved our boys have to make a really big commitment and deal with the challenges of trying to complete year 12 at the same time.”
“Having guys like Michael and Jason involved is just a great opportunity for the boys and hopefully they can impart some of the life-lessons they’ve learned along the way.”
One of the biggest challenges Kennelly and his coaching team face is ensuring players from different corners of NSW and the ACT are on the same page come game time with the opportunity to come together as one group very rare.
“We had a three-day camp in Albury during the pre-season and that’s the only chance we’ve had to have the whole squad together as one.”
“We have bases at Wagga Wagga and Canberra, as well as in Sydney so we get together on a Friday night as a coaching team and share footage of training and match reviews during the week.”
But according to the premiership hero, the benefits of playing in the TAC Cup far outweigh the negatives.
“It’s really exciting to expose 50-odd boys to a higher standard of competition and to have them play in front of recruiters from all 18 AFL clubs every week.
“Travelling so much also gives the boys a chance to see what life is like as a professional footballer and helps build resilience.”
Perhaps it was this attitude that inspired the Rams to their first win last week when they held off the fast-finishing Western Jets in Melbourne.
Despite missing highly touted Swans Academy player Callum Mills, the Rams powered to victory thanks to starring roles from Jake Brown and Harrison Himmelberg (four goals).
Kennelly also highlighted Matthew Kennedy and Brydan Hodgson as players to watch this year.
The Rams return this weekend to take on the Dandenong Stingrays before a much-anticipated clash with Murray Bushrangers in Albury on May 10.
“It will be exciting to play Murray with obviously a lot of NSW boys on each side pushing for selection in our squad for the National Championships.”