Southern Preview: Taroona out for revenge as milestone clubs chase finals return

Wed, Apr 26, 2023, 2:00 AM
TAS Rugby
by TAS Rugby
LEADING THE CHARGE: Taroona veteran Ant Lean has been named Penguins' skipper for their 2023 premiership campaign. Picture: Supplied
LEADING THE CHARGE: Taroona veteran Ant Lean has been named Penguins' skipper for their 2023 premiership campaign. Picture: Supplied

Taroona will enter 2023 as the South’s best TRU title hope but they won’t have it all their way with Glenorchy, Harlequins, University, Eastern Suburbs & Hobart Lions eyeing a return to finals footy.

The Penguins men fell agonisingly short in last season’s Premiership decider with Launceston kicking an overtime penalty to emerge 17-16 victors and club president Simon Plumb says the side are well placed to go one better.

“Last year’s success probably came a little earlier than anticipated,” Plumb said.

“I think we were expecting to reach a final this year, not last year, but it was a good step for us and brought forward our plans in a positive way.

“We’re still very young squad but now a year older and more experienced plus a few fellows coming from other clubs so we’ll be expecting to contest and win premierships for the next two to three years.”

“Our goal this season is certainly to make finals and drive towards another grand final appearance.”

With kick off to 2023 rapidly approaching it is my pleasure to announce the men’s leadership group: Captain 1st XV -...

Posted by Taroona Rugby Club on Thursday, March 23, 2023

Taroona last tasted premiership glory in 2020 with Devonport (2021) & Launceston (2022) keeping the silverware up north in recent years.

However, new Penguins skipper Ant Lean and co-coaches Cristo Le Grange & Rhys Watts aren’t the only Southerners eyeing off finals finals.

Both Harlequins and University celebrate their 90th club anniversaries this season and are determined to shake their “underperformers” tag in 2023.

“We’ve had a difficult few years but training numbers have been pretty good with some handy players coming on board,” Harlequins president Jeff Altmann said.

“Going winless last year was tough and we’d love to turn things around in our milestone season.”

Harlequins will also be bolstered by the signing of Super W and Aon 7s veteran Wynonah Conway as women's coach.

Harlequins are very happy to announce the appointment of Wynonah Conway to the position of Senior Womens Coach this...

Posted by Hobart Harlequins Rugby Union Club on Monday, January 30, 2023

University president Jordan Ryan says his club are due a long-awaited return to men's finals with their triple-premiership women's side setting a benchmark.

“There’s no doubt we’ve got the talent, it’s just about keeping the same side on the paddock for a full season,” Ryan said

“We’ve had a large turnover of players and we know that’s not exclusive to our club but we’re happy with the new ones who’ve signed on.

"Our women have been top-class for a number of years even with their turnover and we'd love to match them by making finals."

Our 3x Premiers are looking to go back to back to back to back in our 90th year. It's all happening at Uni!!

Posted by Tasmanian University Rugby Union Football Club on Thursday, April 20, 2023

Hobart Lions president Aleem Kahlfan is determined to remind the competition of his side’s credentials after jagging four wins in 2022, including a 24-17 upset victory in Burnie.

“I think we underperformed last year so our challenge is to climb back up that ladder,” Kahlfan said.

“We’ve had our share of pre-season injuries but that’s contact sport and we’ll get on with it this year.”

⚫️🦌 2023 Seniors Fixture 🦌⚫️ Our season begins with our first game of the year against the Devonport Bulls Rugby Union...

Posted by Glenorchy Rugby Union Football Club on Sunday, April 23, 2023

Glenorchy could face a challenging 2023 after a host of personnel changes but remain a potent threat at their Eady Street home.

“With player retirements, people moving interstate and a few moving between clubs, we’re looking at a big rebuild this season,” Stags president Peter Sheedy said.

“For us, it’s been really pleasing to see the camaraderie through pre-season despite not having as many numbers as we’d like and there’s a few old boys who’ve come back to help out too.

“We’re putting plenty of time into our developing our juniors at the moment as well so it’s been positive to see kids coming across from other sports and enjoying themselves.”

Today Easts travelled up to Devonport to play in the Broughton cup. It was a fun day and a great opportunity for the new...

Posted by Eastern Suburbs Rugby Union Football Club. on Saturday, March 25, 2023

 Meanwhile Eastern Suburbs have enjoyed a double-digits recruitment drive after successfully stalling at Eastlands during their off-season.

Roosters president Kristi Leitch said the club had high hopes for 2023 after signing a host of new players across mens, womens and juniors

"For starters, we're really proud of all our juniors who trialed for the state squads and had a few selected which was great to see," Leitch said.

"Overall I think we're looking pretty good - men's training has gone well and our girls definitely have the most fun of all teams out there - but our stall at Eastlands went much better than expected so we'll be back there to get some more awareness through the year."