FORMER Southern Districts captain and coach, Tim Rapp, is tipping his old club to win their first Shute Shield rugby grand final and upset favourites Sydney University on Saturday at Concord Oval.
University play in their eighth consecutive grand final and pundits expect the star-studded team to run over the top of Southern Districts, who will be without representatives, big lock Kane Douglas and centre Rob Horne.
Douglas has been selected to make his run-on debut for the Wallabies in the Australia v Argentina Test on the same night, on the Gold Coast.
Horne suffered a seven centimetre tear to his hamstring early in Saturday’s final when Southern Districts beat Manly 41-22 at TG Millner Field, Marsfield.
Rapp, now an Australian Schoolboys coach and director of rugby at Newington College, believes the Rebels have perfected a style which will ‘‘greatly trouble’’ the Students at Concord Oval.
‘‘The boys have an exciting running game going right now. It is hard to defend against and Uni don’t particularly go that well against strong-running backlines,’’ said Rapp at a Rebels training session this week.
‘‘If the pack can match it with the Students and the backs make use of their opportunities, they can win for sure.
‘‘This is a grand final and most of Sydney will be behind the underdogs, especially at the ground. No one outside Uni circles want to see another Sydney University victory.’’
Coach Cameron Blades has brought back experienced lock Andrew Leota for Douglas, with Leota playing much of the season before Douglas’ season with the NSW Waratahs ended.
No. 6 Matt Swann will don head-gear again after suffering a deep head wound on saturday, which required about 50 stitches!
Big winger Ben Connolly keeps his spot after he came on when Horne went down on Saturday.
This decision allows Western Force centre Nic Cummins to switch back to centre where he and outside backs, the livewire Atieli Pakalani and Ben Volavola,
caused Manly so much trouble.
Cummins’ Australian under 20s centre partner, Apo Latunipulu, says he is looking forward to another clash with Uni’s representative, Tom Carter.
‘‘We’ve had good clashes before and he should bring the best out in me again,’’ Latunipulu said.
TYNAN SPLIT: There is just a little grand final tension in the Tynan family household. Car dealership head Madeline Tynan-Davie revealed daughter Prudence is marrying Sydney University captain Tim Davidson, who has captained his team to six consecutive premierships and is playing his 100th first grade game for the Students. Her son Brendan Tynan-Davie is a director on the board of Southern Districts. They’re all living in the one house, with the wedding a week after the grand final (and the hen’s night is the night of the grand final). And during next week, Davidson has to travel to Melbourne for duties with the Melbourne Rebels Super Rugby franchise. On Saturday, Madeline’s brother Keiran Tynan, who runs the Tynan Mercedes Benz dealership, won’t be picking up Davidson in one of his Tynan buses — they’re only for Southern Districts supporters travelling to away games. But if Souths win, he’ll gladly take him back to Sylvania Waters and the Southern Districts club!
GRAND FINAL TEAM: 1 Tetera Faulkner, 2 John Ulugia (c), 3 Tim Metcher, 4 Jed Holloway, 5 Andrew Leota, 6 Matt Swann, 7 Jono Hayes, 8 Lopeti Timani, 9 Grayson Hart, 10 Rohan Saifoloi, 11 Ben Connolly, 12 Apo Latunipulu, 13 Nic Cummins, 14 Atieli Pakalani, 15 Ben Volavola. Bench: 16 Andrew Sulter, 17 Marcus Heather, 18 Dallas Pawley, 19 Cal Reilly, 20 Chris O’Reilly, 21 Lester Salanoa, 22 Alex Gibbon, 23 Joe Lynch.