President's plan to recapture junior base as rep squads unveiled

Tue, Apr 11, 2023, 2:00 AM
TAS Rugby
by TAS Rugby
New TRU president Shaun Killian (centre) is putting junior development and retention at the forefront in Tasmania Rugby's 90th year.
New TRU president Shaun Killian (centre) is putting junior development and retention at the forefront in Tasmania Rugby's 90th year.

Newly appointed Tasmanian Rugby boss Shaun Killian has put the state’s rival codes on notice with a bold plan to recapture its junior base and pave the way for rising talents to play at the highest level.

A talented junior back in his native South Africa, Killian has been a coaching mainstay at Hobart Lions and through Tasmania’s representative pathways since 2016.

Now, the full-time Hutchins teacher will tackle Tassie’s toughest rugby role after replacing Ebony Altimira as TRU president – and he knows exactly where to start.

“Any chance to be involved in rugby is a huge driver for me and as an educator, I’m always conscious of developing our youngest players and building a sustainable rugby environment,” Killian said.

“Growing up in South Africa, I started rugby at 5 years old so targeting that U6-U8 age group and developing those skills and relationship is hugely important to me.

Tasmanian U18 Boys Squad

Caleb Poole 

Charlie Cosgrove 

Darcy Beaven-Duncan

Deon Le Grange 

Hamish Pinner 

Hunter Cross 

Hunter Cooper 

Jonty Savory

Immanuel Summerfield

Marno Van Coller 

Oliver Eddington  

Saul Di Bari 

Seth Rodriguez 

Shannon Townsend 

Victor F'aaifo 

Jakob Fiedler (train-on)

Kane Walsh (train-on)

Riley Kuys (train-on)

Rowan Sanderson (train-on)

Zachary Langley (train-on)

“But when I first came to Tasmania, I found rugby only started around the U13 age group so through the years I’ve worked with school coaching and through my own rugby academy running holiday clinics and the like.

“If you get that player base early kids grow into the game, they learn good habits, make lifelong friends and that turns into lifelong engagement with the sport as players, coaches, referees and volunteers.

“People like Jane Wilkinson have been working hard behind the scenes in this space and I think it’s critical for Tasmanian rugby that we keep pushing forward and re-engaging those age groups.”

Killian identified Tassie’s representative rugby program as key to turning juniors into long-term players and believes a clear pathway to Super Rugby is pivotal.

“I think our pathway goes through the Melbourne Rebels – we’ve got great relationships in Canberra and with the Brumbies but I think our closest relationship both geographically and culturally is with Victorian schools and the Rebels program,” Killian said.

Tasmanian U18 Girls + U16 Barbarians reps

Tyler Armstrong 

Erika Ledster 

Talia Smith 

Zhana Williams 

Chloe Seal 

Alice Reid 

Eimear Greenhill 

Summer Bennetto 

Saskia Heggarty 

Anna Consentino 

Mia Mason 

Lillian Berry 

Lettamae Gardner

Charlotte McNeill

Elsie Rusic

Bernadette Nordstrom

Lilly Temple

Stella Thompson (U16 Barbarians)

Emma Pritchard (U16 Barbarians)

“We’ve taken school tours there in the past and it’s an area I’m keen to pursue because we need to have a clear representative pathway for our players.

“In the past we’ve had to borrow players on our state tours but now we’re at a stage where we’ve got fantastic turnouts to our state trials and that’s driving competition so it’s exciting to see where we can take our rep programs and maybe get a few kids into the Melbourne system.”

With Tasmanian Rugby celebrating its 90th senior season in 2023, Killian says the milestone year will be “community-oriented” with Hobart’s Rugby Park set to host all 8 premiership sides in a Round 1 “Super Saturday”.

“In the past I think sometimes there’s been an us-versus-them mentality with the clubs and that’s something we’re looking to change and work collaboratively on in 2023 and going forward,” he said.

“It’s all well and good to have one or two strong clubs but at the end of the day, we want rugby strong across the state and so let’s look at where one club is doing well and see if we can emulate that and help out other clubs.”

Tasmanian U16 Boys

Tomas Burt 

Tom Overton 

Lachlan Bennett 

Charlie Menzies 

Logan Beaven-Duncan 

Edward Toohey 

Connor Davidson 

Tom Wilkinson 

Thomas Alomes 

Phoenix Simpson

Aiden Flack 

Josiah Jeffery 

Zenon Latimer 

André Loubster 

Ronan Moyle

Hamish Grant 

Oli Wilson 

Tynan Williams 

Luke Hodge 

Charlie Fiedler 

Oliver Pinner 

Cooper Crowther

Nate Henrys

As Australian rugby looks to capitalise on a golden decade featuring two home World Cups, a British & Irish Lions Tour (2025), Commonwealth Games 2026 & the Brisbane 2032 Olympics, Killian is eager for Tasmania to receive its share.

First and foremost, we’re looking to revenue raise and put that money back into our community,” Killian said.

“But we’re also very keen to redevelop Rugby Park and potentially attract international and high profile teams to Tasmania.

“Look at the hockey centre across the road – they’ve got great indoor & outdoor facilities and we want to emulate that, turn Rugby Park into a high quality sports facility and keep it family friendly.

“If we can get that kind of financial support and make some facility changes, that’s when we’ll be able to attract a big international or Super Rugby team down to Hobart for training camps and hopefully a few more games in the future.”

Tasmanian U14 Boys

Nicholas Wilkinson 

Lachlan Job 

Jordan Moyle 

Henry Mann 

Josaiah Naufahu

Connor Lucas 

Jack Schelbach 

Hamish McNeill 

Rory Killian

Zavier Thow 

Soren Sheppard 

Bill Giddings 

Makkai Kettle 

Gus Turner

Joey Cartridge 

Henry Stone 

James Edwards 

Kurt Weaver 

William Rodgers