The NSW Waratahs 2017 squad boasts an incredible nine players with strong roots to country rugby – none stronger than Ned Hanigan’s.
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So you’d think the hulking lock, who grew up 50 kilometres north of Coonamble at a place called Pasadena, would be well attuned to exactly where the best rugby venue in the bush is.
“Tamworth?” Hanigan said.
Not a good start, Ned.
“I haven’t seen (Glen Willow). It’s as good as Tamworth, they claim … maybe better,” he added.
Better is the right answer, with Glen Willow to play host to the Tahs for Saturday’s Super Rugby trial with the ACT Brumbies.
It’s the first time the Mudgee venue has hosted a Super clash, of any description, and Hanigan was confident the community would rally behind the home side.
“Bloody oath,” Hanigan said, the Lake Burrendong setting bringing out the country in the Coonamble boy.
“The rugby out here is such a communal thing. It brings lots of people. Mudgee will be packed.”
And Hanigan will be loving it, donning the Waratahs colours in front of a parochial home crowd.
“I love pulling on what I think is a great honour in the blue jersey,” Hanigan said, the young bull eyeing off more time on the field this year too.
“There’s a lot of experience that’s left the Tahs. Dave Dennis and Wycliff (Palu) have exited. Dean Mumm and Michael Hooper, they’re still there and bring a wealth of experience.”
Hanigan was confident the Tahs, in their first trial of the new season, would be able to push the Brumbies, a side in the middle of its pre-season having taken on the Australian Barbarians last weekend.
“We’ve focused on what we want to do, play a bit different this year and a bit smarter. This first trial is to try new things and worry about us,” he added.
“Hopefully we can execute a few things well.”
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