He has spent the majority of 2018 recovering from a knee injury suffered during last year’s National Rugby Championships (NRC) but lock Ben Hyne is set to lead the Canberra Vikings experienced squad in the 2018 NRC.
He was man-of-the-match in three of the first four Vikings games last season before injury struck and forced him to spend the past 12 months recovering from surgery but head coach Nick Scrivener has given him the responsibility to skipper the 33-man squad this season.
Hyne played the last three games of the Tuggeranong Vikings John I Dent Cup campaign and will head into the opening NRC clash against last years champions on 1 September with only 190 minutes of match fitness under his belt. But the 24-year-old said he feels prepared to lead the side and has put the injury behind him.
“Injuries are a thing in rugby aren’t they and you can’t hold on to them and you move on from them as quickly as you can,” Hyne said this morning.
“With my knee, there was 11-month rehab block put in place for it and once that was up I was good to go. It wasn’t a thought in my mind in the three games that I have played so far.
“Personally, for myself, I just want to get back to playing good football. I am not looking too far ahead and I am focussing game by game and hopefully, I can have a good campaign.”
Scrivener believes the young lock is ready for the responsibility of the captain’s armband and said Hyne is champing at the bit to get regular game-time under his belt ahead of the 2019 Super Rugby season.
“Hyne is an extremely talented footballer and will no doubt lead by example both on and off the field,” Scrivener said. “Ben is well respected amongst the playing group and has all the attributes that you could want in a leader.”
Scrivener has selected an experienced squad to tackle the seven-round competition as the Vikings look to go one better than the 2017 season, which saw them lose out at the final hurdle beaten by Queensland Country.
Former Waratahs centre Irae Simone is one of 19 contracted Brumbies players named in the squad for the competition with Wallabies squad members Rory Arnold and Tom Banks both in the squad for the fifth edition of the NRC.
The team also has a strong representation from the local John I Dent Cup with Canberra Royals scrumhalf Argentinean-born Pedro Rolando, who was the leading scorer in the this season’s competition.
Scrivener is confident the young emerging talent within the team provides him with a well-balanced, hungry and enthusiastic group.
“I believe it is an excellent blend of youth and experience and has the potential to play a fast-paced, running game as well as being physical at the set-piece and difficult to contain,” he said.
“It’s great to see so many young players included who will no doubt use the NRC as a stepping stone in their careers.
“I am expecting this season to be a tough test for the players, there are no easy matches in this competition and the schedule is such that any slip-up could be detrimental to playing finals football.
“With one week’s preparation leading into the first round it is vital we get the players aligned with how we want to play as quickly as possible and focussed on our first home game against Queensland Country.”
Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter and flankers Lachlan McCaffrey and last year’s captain Tom Cusack will not take part in the NRC this season after a long and tiring Super Rugby campaign, being ruled out by Brumbies to recondition after a rigorous season.
The Vikings begin their 2018 NRC campaign with the grand final rematch against Queensland Country at Viking Park on Saturday 1 September with kick-off at 5 pm.
2018 Vikings NRC squad
Jacob Abel (Eastern Suburbs), Rory Arnold (Gungahlin Eagles), Tom Banks (Uni-Norths Owls), Max Bode (Uni-Norths Owls), Bj Edwards (Gungahlin Eagles), Blake Enever (Eastern Suburbs), Folau Fainga’a (Western Districts Lions), Vunipola Fifita (West Harbour, NZ), Seth Going (Canberra Royals), Mack Hansen (Gungahlin Eagles), Wharenui Hawera (Gungahlin Eagles), Ben Hyne (C) (Tuggeranong Vikings), Len Ikitau (Tuggeranong Vikings), Jordan Jackson-Hope (Tuggeranong Vikings), Luke Kimber (Canberra Royals), Brodie Leber (Western Districts Lions), Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin (Queanbeyan Whites), Noah Lolesio (Tuggeranong Vikings), Ryan Lonergan (Tuggeranong Vikings), Josh Mann-Rea (Gungahlin Eagles), Connal McInerney (Easts, Sydney/Canberra Royals), Andy Muirhead (Canberra Royals), Michael Oakman-Hunt (Tuggeranong Vikings), Chance Peni (Western Districts Lions), Pedro Rolando (Canberra Royals), Tom Ross (Gungahlin Eagles), Irae Simone (Northern Suburbs, Sydney/Tbc), Darcy Swain (Tuggeranong Vikings), Lausii Taliauli (Canberra Royals), Sione Taula (Tuggeranong Vikings), Mitch Tye (Western Districts Lions), Rob Valetini (Western Districts Lions)
R1: 01/09/18 – Queensland Country (Viking Park, 17:00)
R2: 08/09/18 – Sydney (Concord Oval, 15:00)
R3: 16/09/18 – Western Force (Viking Park, 15:00)
R4: 23/09/18 – NSW Country Eagles (Armidale, 13:00)
R5: 29/09/18 – Melbourne Rising (Viking Park, 19:00)
R6: 06/10/18 – Fiji Drua (Lautoka, Fiji, 15:00)
R7: 14/10/18 – Brisbane City (Easts Rugby Club, Brisbane, 14:00)