NSW Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan got to see his former school crowned champions when he made a flying visit back to Tamworth for last night’s LBK Solicitors Cup finals.
St Nicholas’s took out the primary division, defeating Calrossy 31-7.
Ryan attended St Nic’s and played as a schoolboy in the Friday night competition for McCarthy.
He was on hand to present the winning teams with their trophies but couldn’t stay for all of the finals as he had to get back for a captain’s run with Sydney Uni this morning.
They play Manly in tomorrow’s qualifying semi-final.
It’s second v third and will be a bit of a “super rugby” battle, with at least 15 of the players associated with a Super Rugby franchise.
More than half of them will be lining up for Sydney Uni.
“We’re pretty strong on paper,” Ryan said.
Just in the forwards there’s him, Dave Dennis, Will Skelton and skipper Tim Davidson. The backline is even more stacked with Super Rugby talent.
Ryan though is predicting a tough game.
“Manly have got a good culture,” he said. “And they’ve got a pretty strong forward pack.”
They’ll also possibly be “more in sync” than them. They haven’t had a lot of time together with guys coming in and out with Super Rugby and other commitments.
It’s not one of the Marlins’ stars though that Ryan is looking forward to doing battle with.
“Hopefully I come up against Andy Collins,” he said.
“I used to play with him at Pirates.”
Collins hasn’t been named to start but should get a bit of time.
While he would have liked to have started a bit more, Ryan was pretty happy with his season at the Tahs.
New Wallabies coach Ewan McKenzie liked what he saw, naming him in his initial Wallabies training squad.
From his time around the side, Ryan said there was a pretty good feeling.
“Ewan is playing a good style – you saw that with James O’Connor’s try,” he said.
“It’s going to be exciting going forward.”
He likened McKenzie a bit to Waratahs coach Michael Cheika.
“They’re both old hard blokes,” he said. “And really value winning.”
After making his Wallabies debut on last year’s Spring Tour, Ryan is hopeful of having the chance to add to his one cap on this year’s tour, if not before.
There are still 11 Tests to be played so still plenty of chances.
If he does, it will be under the new scrum laws.
Ryan got the chance to experience them on the Waratahs’ recent tour of Argentina and, contrary to some opinions, thinks they will be good.
“It’ll be a much more even contest,” he said.
They’ll also increase the value of a good scrummaging prop.