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Wolfhounds Step into NERFU Competition

Friday Sep 18, 2009 in Amateur Competitions Division I Clubs

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The Boston Irish Wolfhound search for a new coach ended with them finding a candidate almost on their doorstep. Now they get to see how it will all fit together.

The Wolfhounds begin their New England DI club season without longtime coach Steve Teasdale, who stepped down during the summer. At the helm instead is Australian Adam Lewis, who is studying for his Master’s in Boston and has stepped up to coach the team.

“The players are reacting to him well, he brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm, and he has experience coaching the modern game,” said club spokesman Graham Healy. “He’s a good hire.”

Lewis took a squad of 23 down to Bermuda to play the Bermuda national team last weekend. It was a preseason trip that quickly grew in stature, as club overtures to various clubs in Bermuda revealed that it was the national team that needed a tune-up before taking on Bahamas and Trinidad & Tobago.

So a national team it was. The squad of 23 was cut to about 20 before the game even started because of late injuries, but the Wolfhounds held up well, losing 18-8 as Bermuda ran in some late scores.

“The heat and the humidity made it really difficult,” said Healy. “Bermuda just had more gas at the end. Still it was a good trip.”

Now more unknowns as the Wolfhounds prepare to take on new NERFU club White Plains, which moved over from the MetNY union.

White Plains lost 22-12 last weekend to Amoskeag, a club the Wolfhounds rate highly, and therefore they are likely to be wary of the New York-area club.

“It’s a competitive league and there are no easy games,” said Healy.

Leading the way for the Wolfhounds is a very capable back row. Captain Stu Abbott steps in at blindside or No. 8, while Jesse Borle and Alejandro Verdaguer round out the unit.

“Stu leads by example,” said Healy. “You can pick a team captain, but really all the players know who the leaders are on a team. Stu is that leader.”

Kane Jenkins and Steve Barrett are key performers in a midfield that carries much responsibility.

While this is the opening match for the Wolfhounds (and for Boston, which faces Amoskeag) it’s week 2 for Mystic River and South Shore, who both won comfortably in the first week.

Mystic coach Scot Durking gets Dimitri Efthimou back after his stint at the USA 7s camp, and Efthimou joins a cadre of wings and fullbacks who are all very quick. Nick Blincoe is a speedy fullback with New Zealand age-grade experience, while Will Strydom and Joe Shurmaitis also have plenty of talent. The quickest of the group may well be the oldest, Dan Mayton who is around 30 but can move.

“We like to finish off our movements and use those guys,” said coach Scot Durkin, whose team beat New Haven 46-19 last weekend. “I thought our backs did well last week. But our forwards didn’t play well. We had trouble in the lineouts and that’s an area we know we need to improve.”

South Shore has always been tough and while they were a DII club just a year ago, Durkin said that doesn’t matter.

“We have played them in preseason and they have always been difficult,” said Durkin.

- Alex Goff

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