Hangian, Gordon and Foketi to lead in NRC

by Waratahs Media

Foketi has been selected by Chris Whitaker to lead Sydney throughout the eight-week tournament, while Hanigan and Gordon will share the duties as co-captains for the Eagles.

The appointments represent a first for Foketi, Hanigan and Gordon who are yet to captain at this level, in what shapes as a valuable leadership opportunity for the young group of NSW Waratahs.

Foketi – an Australian U20 representative – has impressed in 2019 with his performances in sky blue and throughout the Shute Shield.

Spending time in the Mitre 10 Cup with the Bay of Plenty as well as a season in France with Bayonne, it was the broad nature of Foketi’s experience that stood him out in the eyes of Whitaker.

“He’s well-travelled, he’s a good people person and he gets on well with everyone which are important skills to have as a leader,” Whitaker said.

“I think he’s someone who has taken a step up the leadership ladder here at the Waratahs and it’s important that he keeps working on that.

“He’s not the sort of character that will rant and rave, he leads be example and is really respected by the wider playing group.”

Foketi’s 2019 Super Rugby season started brightly but was curtailed by injury, with Whitaker expecting big things from the fully-fit centre.

“The back end of last season he had a couple of really good games, it was unfortunate that he picked up that injury [earlier in the season] because he would have played a lot more minutes,” Whitaker said.

“Ultimately, it’s [the NRC] going to be a good experience for him, he’ll get games under his belt and be ready for 2020 [Super Rugby] pre-season.”

The experienced duo of Hanigan and Gordon will lead the Eagles under the guidance of Robert Taylor, with the later enjoying a relationship with the Country boss from the Shute Shield at Sydney University.

Both internationally capped and boasting a wealth of experience at Super Rugby level, the Eagles’ co-captains will lead a young Country squad throughout the competition.

“That’s the great thing about the NRC it’s an opportunity to get better, try things and bring people through – be that on field or off field,” Taylor said.

“Obviously, I know Jake through Sydney Uni and seen how he’s grown and matured – this is another chance for him to hone that game management and leadership.

“I’ve seen Jake start to take real ownership [at Sydney Uni] of on-field decision making, problem solving. He wants that responsibility, taking the lead tactically and is a guy who’s striving to be the best halfback in the world.

“Speaking to people around the Tahs and Tim Rapp, Ned’s a country guy who represents the region really well and this is an opportunity for him in his young career to take on a leadership role.

“While Jake’s not a big personality like Ned – who does a great job at bring a group together and getting guys motivated – he will work in background in decision-making.

“They complement each other really well, it’s a good balance between the two of them.”

Taylor pin-pointed a few areas where Hanigan and Gordon could impart their experience on younger teammates.

“Their attention to detail, their preparation, game knowledge and [ability to] execute a game plan,” Taylor said.

“The difference between going from club to Super Rugby is doing the little things well all the time and both these guys live the consistency that’s required to succeed.”

Sydney and Country will battle it out in Round 1 of the NRC at Apex Oval on Saturday 31 August.