The “Prems” find themselves in uncharted territory as we enter the 2018/19 season.
Firstly, and most obviously, this is the first season that the team will run out onto the pitch in a spanking new kit as HKU Sandy Bay RFC. There is a new premiership team in town!
Secondly, there is some resolve to put right an uncharacteristic previous season where only a single victory anchored to the bottom of the league table.
This is a team that has tasted much success over the past two decades with League wins in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2014 and 2015 and Grand Championship Final appearances in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 with victories in 2002 and 2006.
The 2017/18 season was a baptism of fire for young coach, South African born, Brett Wilkinson. The quietly spoken former prop forward, knows all about patience - scoring just two tries in his 183 appearances for Connacht in Ireland – and has quietly gone about retaining his players and keeping the squad together for the challenge of the new season in new colours. The humble 34-year-old is a big believer in humility, respect and pride and feels modestly optimistic about the season ahead.
Key to Wilkinson’s plans has been the retention and return of stalwarts and ex-internationals Matt Lamming, Damian “Moses” Bailey, brothers Alex and Tom McQueen as well as other veteran backs Angus Cameron and Danny Atamu. The squad is further bolstered by the continued services of current internationals Liam Slatem, Dylan Rogers, Ben Roberts and Jack Delaforce who will be joined by a promising sprinkling of relative newcomers who bring enthusiasm and talent to round out the squad of 32.
Restoring former glory is an aspirational goal but so is the exciting opportunity to carve out a new era in the clubs history. One built on high-performance, solid friendships, respect for the opposition and love for the game.