NSW Rugby Union (NSWRU) has finalised the coaching staff for Sydney and the Country Eagles for the 2019 National Rugby Championships (NRC). There will be two NSW Waratahs coaching staff involved in the eight-week tournament, which will see some of the state’s emerging talent get a taste of professional rugby in a high-performance environment. The management of Sydney – formerly known as the Rays – has now moved to NSWRU, with the Country Eagles operating under NSW Country Rugby Union. NSW Waratahs Assistant, Chris Whitaker returns to lead Sydney with Pauli Taumoepeau from Easts as his Assistant. Whitaker said he was looking forward to another NRC campaign overseeing some of NSW’s best young players. “We’ve seen a lot of really talented young players pushing for selection from within our development pathways,” Whitaker said. “There’ll be opportunity for those guys to work with some experienced heads, hopefully [they] get plenty out of the competition individually but also pick up some good results along the way.” Robert Taylor from Sydney University will lead the Country Eagles, assisted by Randwick’s Ben McCormack. Taking the reins at NRC level for the first time, Taylor said he’ll be looking closely at the Shute Shield come selection time. “We’ve got an extremely strong club rugby competition in New South Wales and plenty of guys with the ability to take that step up,” Taylor said. “It’s about us creating an environment where these players can be challenged and succeed. We want to give them the tools to produce their best rugby while representing Country New South Wales on a national stage.” Both teams will be supported by NSW Waratahs Assistant, Steve Tandy with a set-piece specialist also set to be included within both NRC coaching ranks. NSWRU General Manager of Rugby, Tim Rapp said that the state’s respective NRC squads would be working with an experienced group of coaches. “We see the NRC as an important development opportunity for young players that are aspiring to make a permanent step into a professional environment – we’ve assembled some really experienced guys to help facilitate that,” said Rapp. “It’s also a chance for aspiring staff to be challenged at the next level, as we look at some of our up-and-coming coaches and support staff. “We’ve obviously got some time before the competition gets underway, we’re looking at our squads and will be keeping a close eye on club rugby form over the next couple of months.” The 2019 National Rugby Championship is set to kick off in late-August with further details on the draw to be confirmed shortly.