In the lead up to the 2014 VB NSW Cup season, we will shine the spotlight on all 13 competing teams to see how they are shaping up for the year ahead.
Today we take a look at Mounties.
Head Coach: Steve Antonelli
Home Ground: Aubrey Keech Reserve and GIO Stadium
Year Entered Competition: 2012
2013 Result: 10th - (10 wins and 14 losses)
2014 Key Signings (Canberra & Mounties): Lagi Setu (Melbourne Storm), Kyle O’Donnell (Penrith Panthers), Kurt Baptiste (Brisbane Broncos), Joe Bond (Brisbane Broncos) & Gus Aiga (Illawarra Cutters).
Having missed the VB NSW Cup finals in each of their first two seasons, Mounties will be hell bent on rectifying that in 2014.
And as they enter into their third season as a partner of the Canberra Raiders, Mounties may finally be ready to take that next step and make some noise come September.
Mounties are one of the strongest rugby league clubs in NSW, both on and off the park, and when you take their rich resources and combine them with that of the Raiders, there is plenty of reason for optimism if you are a fan of the club.
Despite Mt Pritchard’s geographical distance from Raiders HQ in the ACT being some 250km’s, Mounties head coach, Steve Antonelli, insists that this isn’t an issue and that the relationship could not be healthier.
“The communication lines between myself, Ricky Stuart, David Hamilton (High Performance & Recruitment Manager)and Brett Kimmorley (NRL Assistant Coach) are fantastic,” Antonelli said.
“It is a credit to both organisations the way in which we interact both on and off the field and we are all on the same page right across the board.”
Having flirted with the finals in each of their first two seasons in the competition, Mounties, in terms of the VB NSW Cup, are still a very young club, and despite having fielded teams in other NSWRL tiered competitions for a number of years, it is perhaps just now that they are coming to grips with the rigours of the competition on a weekly basis.
“Our guys need to turn up week in week out ready to play.
“There were a lot of new players in 2013, and for the majority of them it was their first year in the VB NSW Cup.
“Now better for that experience, they now know what is expected and must perform every single week.
“The players realize that they are one step away from the NRL and need to perform accordingly.”
With Mounties having been extremely active in recruitment at all levels of the club this past off season, and the Raiders looking to also have wonderful depth at the club presently, Mounties are a side that could definitely make their presence felt in 2014.
Like most clubs in the VB NSW Cup though, a lot of their success or lack thereof will be heavily dependent on injuries at the NRL level… And as a result, Antonelli doesn’t want to make any bold predictions about the season ahead, but did have this say.
“We want to make the eight (finals), be competitive every single week and continue to push blokes from Mounties up into the NRL… everything else will look after itself.”
Mounties will play upcoming trials against Wenty, Wests Tigers and the Knights before a Round One trip to Brookvale Oval where they will start their campaign against the Manly Sea Eagles.