Burnie coach Brett Kershaw has high hopes for 2023 after his side’s blistering start to the TRU women’s competition.
The Emus enter Round 3 undefeated after collecting six wins across the opening two weekends of sevens action, including a pair of victories over reigning champions University.
While the students remain Tasmania’s benchmark side after a hat-trick of women’s premierships, Kershaw believes his Emus are primed to hit new heights this season.
“We’ve been a very consistent side and had three years of consistency leading into this season, but this has been an exciting start and I’m pretty happy with the way we’re going,” Kershaw said.
“Uni has been strong for a long time – I think were the better side in 2021 and we only dropped four games all year – but they really outplayed us all of last year and we just didn’t have the answers.
“So there’s been this challenge for us to beat Uni this year and we did that Round 1 with a huge comeback in Hobart and did it again at home in Round 2.
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“We’ve really worked on our ruck speed and our defence and in both games against Uni we were able to pin them down in their 22 and not give them any space.”
Burnie’s off-season recruitment has already paid dividends with code-converts and a host of new faces starring alongside Kershaw’s established players.
“Laura Smith’s come over from netball and is doing well, Zhana and Charlotte and Coco are finding their feet, Bridey (Sabin) never played a contact sport but takes to rugby like a duck to water, and Leilani (Zetovic) is a superstar in the making,” Kershaw said.
“She scored two tries on debut two weeks ago and we’re really looking forward to seeing her grow alongside our more senior players.
“Then with our senior players, Anamanu (Vaka) is plugging corners from kick-off really well, Katiola Patalo and Rebecca (Sweetman) are super fit and have a will to win, and our vice-captain Claire Griffiths has a real rugby brain and helps steer the team around with Rebecca.
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“After the past three years, maybe we’re just starting to click!”
Burnie will face Launceston and Taroona in the round robin stage of Round 4 with University and Harlequeens looming as likely final opponents at Royal Park this weekend.
Meanwhile the Emus men will host a double header with University (Premiership) and Taroona (Championship) heading north.
They're not the only Hobart sides heading up the Midland with Penguins also heading to Devonport (Premiership) and Launceston set to host the Lions in a jam-packed weekend of northern rugby.
Hobart Harlequins and Glenorchy will battle it out in Saturday’s sole southern fixture at Rugby Park.