Easts primed for Australian Club Championship clash with Gordon
19 Mar – Hospital Cup – by Brendan Hertel
This Saturday, 20 March, David Wilson Field will play host to the Australian Club Championship clash between 2020 Hospital Challenge Cup Premiers Easts and reigning Shute Shield champions Gordon.
2020 was a monumental year for the Tigers, with the club claiming six premierships across the grades including Premier Grade and Premier Women’s.
Easts head coach, and former Fijian international, Moses Rauluni is looking forward to the weekend ahead.
“This weekend is a massive moment for our club as a whole,” said Rauluni.
“It’s been a while since we have played in one of these games so it’s great to host and have Gordon come up to Brisbane. We’re all really looking forward to it.”
Easts will be without their talismanic leader from 2020, former Wallabies captain Ben Mowen, as well as lock Seru Uru and props Rhys van Nek and George Francis, who are all currently part of Super Rugby squads.
The Tigers will still boast the services of former St.George Queensland Reds and Brumbies playmaker Aidan Toua, who stepped up to play flyhalf for the first time in the 2020 Grand Final. Recently capped St.George Queensland Reds frontrower Richie Asiata will also be available for the clash.
Toua, who returned to Easts after wrapping up his professional career, credits the 2020 season as one of his most enjoyable in the game.
“It was probably my most enjoyable year of Rugby, being older and coming back to Easts and the success the club experienced – it was great,” said Toua.
“I was really glad I made the decision to come back, there were lots of young guys when I came back and I didn’t know a lot of the new faces, but they’re like family now and that is testament to the culture we’re building at Easts.”
To fill the gaps of Mowen and openside flanker Michael Gunn, Rauluni has called on two colts to come into the backrow.
Ben Stoddart, son of former Easts stalwart Tim Stoddart, will make his Premier Grade starting debut in tomorrow’s clash, as well Alex Smit, younger brother of centre Matt Smit.
Despite some changes, Rauluni is confident with the progress of his squad.
“The boys came back in reasonable condition after the break. We gave them some extra time off given how late the season finished, but they’ve trained hard since coming back and I couldn’t be happier with where we’re at.”
The match will be the first club Rugby fixture broadcast LIVE on Stan Sports as part of Rugby Australia’s new broadcast arrangement, which will see both the Hospital Challenge Cup and Shute Shield competitions broadcast live in unison on the one platform for the 2021 season.
“I think Rugby AU have done a great job with Stan and Channel 9,” said Toua.
“Their coverage of the game has been great so far and they’re covering and promoting the grassroots of the game, which is where it all starts. I’m sure that partnership will grow stronger as the year goes on.”
The match will be broadcast on Stan Sport live from 2:05pm AEST.