The Thunder Rugby club has begun preparations for a new rugby season, holding tryouts at Ivor Wynne Stadium. Head Coach Jeff Prince and Gary Macdonald, coach of the U21 development squad were “very impressed with the talent shown by many new faces”.
One of those new faces is Dan Polakoff, an Ontario all-star flanker with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs, and then three years with the Manitoba Bison in the Rugby Canada Super League (RCSL).
“With star backrow players Aaron Carpenter formerly with Mac and now fully involved with Canada’s preparations for the World Cup later this year and Sean-Michael Stephen now under professional contract to Agen in France, Polakoff could be a valuable addition to the squad,“ said Thunder president Dave Burnett.
Prince added, “One thing that has impressed me, aside from the decent fitness levels at this point in the season, was the attitude and commitment that has been apparent” so early. Macdonald also liked the early commitment and level of talent trying out for the Lightning.
“Last year’s team was extremely well balanced with strong, mobile forwards and talented backs. This was reflected in our 5 win – 1 loss season. A number of outstanding players are not returning this season because they are over 21 but what is really exciting is that many of them are on the verge of moving up to the Thunder. The Lightning are off to a great start this season and we hope to build on last season’s success. The team will be full of new faces but the talent is definitely there.”
The coaching staff had a meeting after the training session on Saturday and will be busy over the next couple of weeks organizing the teams for the Green vs. Gold trial match at McMaster (April 15th). “We are all excited about seeing some of the new faces in a game situation,” said Burnett.
Thunder Rugby draws elite players from teams in the Ontario Premier divisions to play in the RCSL and coach Prince is planning a heavy and focused program to get the team ready for an early start: a two game weekend in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia over the Victoria Day weekend in May.
Further information including the full schedule will be available on the website at www.niagarathunderrugby.com or call (905) 336-9545