THE Warringah Rats head into Saturday’s Shute Shield match of the round against Gordon buoyed after opening their 2020 account with a 31-28 win over Easts last weekend.
And they will come up against a very familiar face at Chatswood Oval who has close ties to a number of the Rats family.
We have all the inside info in the countdown to the game, including the stories of the popular Warringah identity who had a very lucky escape after a mishap on his high-powered motor bike and the Rats great who recently shared a plush address with Sonny Bill Williams.
Each week sports reporter Jonathan B Geddes will keep you up to date with the latest news and gossip from the Warringah Rats - both on and off the field, thanks to the Friends of Warringah.
COACHES SET FOR HEAD ON CRASH
THE Gordon battle has been sprinkled with extra spice for Rats head coach Michael Ruthven.
It will be the first time he has gone head to head in a competition game with Gordon and Warringah premiership-winning coach Darren Coleman.
Ruthven was one of Coleman’s assistant coaches at the Rats in 2018. “It’s definitely an important game for the team, but also myself,” Ruthven told Rats Tales.
“Darren’s been a good mentor for me and you always like to challenge yourself against good coaches. He is certainly someone I respect highly.”
Ruthven said he learnt a lot working alongside Coleman, one of the most astute and experienced coaches in Australia. “But probably more importantly I just developed a really good friendship with Darren,” he said. “He’s someone I can ring and I know I can bounce anything off.”
“But it is crucial for our season and important we carry the momentum of the win last week.
BIG BEN CHIMES IN
RUTHVEN said it was a relief to get that first victory over Easts, who will be there at the business end of the season.
“It was great to get that win and get our season underway,” he said.
“There were some really impressive individual performances. (Fullback) Ben Marr was outstanding, he’s just got an uncanny vision for the game and ability to find space.”
“He was dangerous every time he touched the footy.”
Marr’s best mate, winger Ben Woollett, also did some good things and towering secondrower Andrew Davies continued his improvement with another strong game.
Ruthven said when the side got their shape right and found some rhythm, they looked really good with the football, the set piece was strong again and the lineout improved from previous weeks.
“We are giving ourselves a really good platform to play footy off” he said.
Clearly though, there is still plenty to work on.
“It was frustrating at times and we made life far harder for ourselves than we needed to,” he said.
“We went out to 15-0 after 10 minutes and got a bit complacent and allowed them back into the game.”
When Easts halfback Jack Grant got yellow-carded the Rats switched off defensively and the opposition scored 10 points with 14 men.
“Our focus now is consistency,” the coach said.
WARRINGAH Rats first grade skipper Slammin’ Sam Ward really is a “chip off the old pop”.
If you want to know why he is one of the toughest forwards in the Shute Shield, you only have to look at his dad Murray.
One of the most dedicated members of the Warringah Rats family, Murray has his leg in a brace for six weeks after a very lucky escape while riding his GS1200 BMW bike during a getaway on roads less travelled in NSW.
He was with a group of mates in the Wollemi National Park when he took a nasty spill on a fire trail.
“I was going around another rider and going a bit quick to take the corner,” Murray said. “I had to make a decision whether I was going airborne over the edge of the road down the gully or lay the bike down on the road and take my chances that it was going to stop before we went over the edge.”
He and the bike slid for about 20-30m along the road before they went over the bank.
With the help of four or five guys they managed to retrieve 300kg of bike, luggage and camping gear.
Ward senior dusted himself off and continued his adventure ride for another day despite injuring his leg. “It was quite sore and painful,” he admitted.
When he finally went to get treatment two days later the diagnosis came back that he broke a couple of bones in his foot and tore the ligaments off his knee.
He went and saw physio/son Sam at his PhysioWard clinic in Narrabeen where the expert diagnosis from his son was: “You’ve done a good job on it.”
Murray has now had to scrap plans to compete in the Dakar Rally any time soon.
WARRINGAH Ratette Sabine Blakeman will always remember last Saturday’s game against Eastern Suburbs when she got to play alongside sevens legends Ellia Green, Chloe Dalton and Aussie skipper Sharni Williams.
“It was an amazing experience, I was pretty honoured to do it,” Blakeman said.
And she realised they are not only champion footballers, but champion people to boot.
“From playing with them you realise how they are just normal people,” the 23-year-old second rower said.
“They are superstars, but they are also legends because they are very down to earth and they came to training.
“It’s pretty surreal, but at the same time an eye-opener to realise they just enjoy playing club footy as well.”
And even in the short time the Olympic gold medallists spent with the Ratettes, Blakeman learnt a lot from the trio.
“On the weekend Sharni was on the flank right next to me, she just doesn’t miss a tackle and puts 120 per cent into everything she does.”
Ratettes coach Erin Morton said Green, Dalton and Williams got a real buzz out of the game as well.
“They were fully into it and made a huge difference,” Morton said.
Not surprisingly, Warringah won the game 26-12 and on Saturday play Sydney University 2 at University.
THE Rats first grade squad to play Gordon is: 15 Ben Marr, 14 Ben Woollett, 13 Seb Wileman, (vice capt.), 12 Tyson Davis, 11 Charlie Tupu, 10 Tom Halse, 9 Josh Holmes, 8 Charlie McKill, 7 Mungo Mason, 6 Rory Suttor, 5 “Slammin” Sam Ward (capt.), 4 Andrew Davies, 3 Sam Needs, 2 Wes Thomas, 1 Jayden Taylor. Fresh reserves: 16 Rob Kelly, 17 Wayne Borsak, 18 Faavae Sila.
WHICH Warringah great has recently shared a plush city address with Sonny Bill Williams?
After finishing his coaching job in Japan, Sam Harris and his family are finally back in Australia after a few anxious moments with three cancelled flights.
Sam, his wife Hannah and their three children spent their 14-days of isolation in a luxury apartment with stunning views over Sydney Harbour.
Also isolating two floors above at the same exclusive digs was Williams.
On Monday Harris’s father Dick spotted SBW on his balcony exercising hard in preparation for his return to the Sydney Roosters.
Next week the Rats are at home against West Harbour. This will also be the Juniors Round, with 1st Grade wearing a specially designed Juniors Round jersey provided by the Rats Game Day clothing sponsor, ISC. On the jersey will be every name of every registered Junior playing with one of our 7 village clubs, along with each club’s logo. Additionally, very shortly, these jerseys will be available to purchase on the WRC website in both children’s and adult’s sizes. Children’s jerseys will be only $49 and adult jerseys $69. You will even be able to put any number between 1 to 15 on it at the time of ordering. The Club will issue further details on this very shortly once the online purchasing system is set up. Also, on this day a group of 30 junior rugby players will run out with 1st Grade for the kick-off.
Games times are as follows:
4.45pm Ratettes (Can Bar to remain open for this game).
3.00pm First Grade
1.25pm Second Grade
11.50am Ist Grade Colts
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