As one of the long standing powerhouse Clubs in the Nation, SFGG Rugby will be entering the 2018 Samurai Sportwear Pacific Rugby Premiership season with extra venom and some scores to settle. For the last four consecutive years, prior to the 2017 Cal Cup, SFGG had reached the final Championship game of the season. However, during the 2017 season, SFGG failed to reach the Cal Cup final and then fell short to the Austin Huns in the Final Eight of the D1 play offs.
SFGG rotated through a number of coaching variations over the last five seasons, but have now settled with Neil Foote, who prior to SFGG, was Assistant Coach to the German National team. The native New Zealander has been a professional coach for a number of years and brings to SFGG the stability and experience they will need for future success. As the ‘Director of Rugby’, Coach Foote has the exciting task of not only being Head Coach for the PRP squad, but also over seeing the growth and development of the players, coaches and volunteers in all SFGG programs; a sizable task with U8 – U14, HS, Women and Mens squads.
We caught up with ‘Footie’ to check in on SFGG’s pre-season progress.
1) How has early pre-season gone so far?
Pre-Season has gone well. We have focused on trying to build good fitness base to progress into the season with and work on the club culture we are looking to continue building on with one club theme.
2) Initial approach to pre-season? Fitness? Structures? Skills?
The initial first month of pre-season we have concentrated on aerobic fitness levels, without touching too much on team based patterns and structures. Post Christmas we have changed phases and will start work on team patterns and general structures in conjunction with our club men’s division two side. The next month or so we will be looking to finalize a PRP squad and begin concentrating with them on working in the structures we are aiming to take into the season.
3) Any games already played? How did they go? Work ons?
We have only managed to play an inter squad scrimmage as part of the 50 year celebration for the Club in late November and our Men’s D2 side recently played a pre-season game against the Sacramento Blackhawks side. Still lots of fine tuning to be done but what has been pleasing has been the early season fitness levels and positive attitude in the group.
4) Other pre-season games scheduled? Goals for those games?
We don’t have any other pre-season games planned leading into the PRP so will be looking at building some match like intensity in training come the New Year.
5) A rough player in/player out report? Leaders?
At this stage we have lost a number of players such as Pila Iongi who has moved south and Isoa Donaldson who has returned to Fiji. Other players to be unavailable this year are Eakalifi Okusi and Volney Rouse is still recovering from an injury sustained in the Nation D1 Quarter final in Arizona. From the forward pack we have lost long time club stalwart Jacob Nelson who has moved to San Diego. Power forwards Thomas Rooke and Danny Laprevotte have both retired. We are looking to our leadership group of Brendan Daly (USA Selects) , Neil Barrett, Lemoto Filikitonga (USA Eagles) and Jack Halaililo (USA 7s) to give guidance to some young players new to the squad.
6) Coaching staff in/out?
Long time backs coach Grant Wells has taken some time off to concentrate on his young family after many years of sacrifice for the club. Otherwise the coaching structure is the same as last year.
7) Any concluding points?
We are really building toward a new playing group of young ex high school players and a number of new players into the area that will represent the club well over the next few years. We are really looking at players to commit to the Club first theme.
As many of the Championship winning players of previous SFGG campaigns move on to new Clubs or retirement, it will be both interesting and exciting to see how SFGG adapts and performs in the 2018 PRP. One thing is for sure, NEVER under estimate a well coached SFGG team. They will always look to play fast, attractive rugby, that punishes teams who make mistakes. Expect some youth and venom form SFGG this year.