The yellow and blue Pirates of Melbourne’s Southern Districts have been on a slide since the 2010 loss in the Dewar Shield final, but the future is looking brighter with new recruits and a lot of enthusiasm at the club. And there have been some key appointments on and off the field, the most important of which is that of young gun centre, Sione Tuipulotu, who played for the Australian Schoolboys last year.
Founded in 1972, Southern Districts is the second youngest team in the Victorian Rugby Union and assumed it’s current name as recently as 1997. They field four Senior teams, Juniors from U6 to U21, and a women’s team.
Despite new players returning or coming to Seaford, the Pirates are realistic, but they are upbeat regarding the coming season on “the Peninsula”.
G&GR interviewed the pirates’ Head Coach Ross Sanders, who is in the sixth season with the club, ahead of the 2015 Dewar Shield season. This opens for the Pirates a week later than the rest of the competition, on March 28th, against the 2014 wooden-spooners, Endeavour Hills.
Sanders spoke about the changes at the club and the ambition to improve and learn from past season’s errors:
We want to be consistent and competitive throughout the season.
“We have had many changes at the club, we have a new President in Karl Dix and we were able to recruit heavily, attracting players from overseas and welcoming players with experience in the Shute Shield. The coaching staff”, continued Sanders, “ has also been strengthened with the addition of 2nd grade winning coaches Paul Maihi and Keith Elisi from Endeavuour Hills and there is a lot of enthusiasm around the club.”
According to Sanders the strengths of the 2015 Pirates lies in the new recruits and the personnel changes which: “have brought a high standard and the right attitude at the club.” He was happy to have some exceptional players in his team this year.
The area for improvement:
Sanders is very candid in analysing his team’s area of improvement: “Last year we lost several close games, especially against the top teams of the competition; we have to improve in the set pieces”, said Sanders. “We want to focus on structure and stay in the close games for 80 minutes and that will enable us to impose our game style.”
Expectations for 2015:
For the Southern Pirates the expectation is to turn the corner: “We lost a Grand Final in 2010, got third in 2011 and we were on a bit of a slide from there. We want to be competitive and consistent this year and fight for a top four finish and build from our win in the 2014 Grade 2 Premiership.”
Players to watch:
We are very excited that Victorian Schoolboys Captain and 2014 Rugby Young Achiever Sione Tuipulotu has committed to play in the Southern Districts for 2015.
He is a great prospect and I’m sure he will progress to play rugby at national level.
Impact of Rebels/Rising collaboration on your club:
Bad news for Sanders is the likely absence of Rebels-allocated players from his playing XV throughout the competition.
“We have been assigned great players and great guys, in the past: both Mitch Inman and Laurie Weeks have been fantastic ambassadors for the club, but unfortunately they were never available for the Dewar Shield games.”
“This year will be the same, as the allocated players are again part of the regular matchday Rebels’ squad, and this will hurt a small club like ours against bigger teams with allocated Super Rugby players actually on the field.”