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Your guide to 2011 Maccabi Rugby season

Posted: 31-Mar-2011 by Maccabi NSW

Pic: Ingrid Shakenovsky

It’s that time of year again where Maccabi’s rugby boys saddle up for another season in the trenches in NSW Suburban Rugby’s Division Six Meldrum Cup.

The ‘Blues’ are on the road for the opening three rounds of 2011 – but the good news is that in a new, expanded 16 team league, there are more chances to see the side in action with more matches in the Eastern Suburbs.

The side take on Clovelly at Burrows Park, Clovelly on Saturday (all matches kick off at 3.15pm), before meeting new sides Randwick and Sydney Grammar Old Boys. Round four marks the return to ‘fortress Lyne Park’ against Seaforth on 16 April.

The club has been put through a gut-busting pre-season under new coach Brendan Hall.

The Kiwi born personal trainer has tailored individual fitness programs for each player and renewed the club’s energy after a dip in form in 2010.

“He’s taken the club by storm,” Maccabi rugby club president David Greenstein told Maccabi News. “He’s really, really invigorated the boys. He’s a very motivated coach and his rugby knowledge is unquestioned.

“I’ve never seen them more motivated. This is my third year with the club in an official capacity – but over six years that I’ve been watching I haven’t seen the boys like this.

"If nothing else, we’ll certainly be the fittest club, if not the most talented.”

Maccabi have been boosted by captain Keith Friedlander’s return after a wretched run with injury in 2010, but received a blow this week with news that dynamic winger Dan Munitz will miss the season after grade three AC injury to his shoulder.

It’s certainly a period of renewal for the club. Old heads in the forwards like Garry Samowitz, Dean Isdale and Brad Sewitz have retired, but familiar faces from the 2009 Maccabiah squad Lance Friedman, Jerome Bowman, Rael Shakenovsky, Jon Jon Levy, Shaun and Kevin Jankelowitz and Justin Weiss will be back to lead the club through another campaign.

Ben Selwyn, who joined them in 2009 while living in Canberra, has moved to Sydney and will be a key addition to the club, while Josh Allen is another welcome recruit.

Depth could come into play in 2011 with a smaller squad than in the past. The club won’t enter a formal second XV into the second tier Halligan Cup and will cross fingers for a healthy season.

Instead, practice will come from friendly matches. The side won their annual pre-season friendly against Sydney Convicts – the first gay rugby club in Australia – and will instead opt to play the second XV against them throughout the season, where the series victor will claim the ‘Barbara Streisand Cup’ (I’m trying my best to stay deadly serious here!).

As the 2011 campaign continues, the club’s aim is to begin to plant seeds ahead of the defence of their 2013 Maccabiah crown.

The club needs a larger bank of players to secure its future, and Greenstein has identified the North Shore talent who might play with clubs in their area, as well as year 11 and 12 talent that play for Moriah and Masada, as ideal players to target. He hopes they can emulate the success of teenager Dean Friedlander, who seamlessly stepped up from school rugby to Meldrum Cup last year.

For now though, it’s season kick-off that’s the focus.

“I think we’ve got enough of the older guys, the experienced guys still in the squad, to give us a lot of confidence that we’ll perform well this season,” Greenstein said.

“I think we’re finals contenders definitely. The rest depends on how we go with injuries.”

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