A quick-footed Navy Tridents side is gearing up to take on a range of international and representative teams in the Harmony Cup rugby league nines tournament from February 26-28 at Port Kennedy, WA.
CAPTION: Petty Officer Stephen Swanson participates in a training session with the Navy Tridents rugby league team at the Lark Hill Sporting Complex in Port Kennedy, WA. Photo by Leading Seaman Ernesto Sanchez.
Player and co-coach Petty Officer Stephen Swanson said his predominantly young side would be able to leverage speed to their advantage, in a pool that includes Samoa, Tonga and an Indigenous team.
“We’ll be able to use that against some of the bigger players, meaning a lot of ‘eyes-up’ footy and playing what’s in front of us,” Petty Officer Swanson said.
“Completing our sets and using our speed to run the big boys around will probably be our strategy.”
The nines format features nine-minute halves and quick, running plays but Petty Officer Swanson said the unlimited interchanges would mean a deliberate use of their forwards.
Despite AFL’s popularity in WA, the Tridents will draw from a playing roster of more than 20 who regularly attend training; making it easy to prepare their formation and gameplay.
“We’re sticking to some basic structures and movements to help us be competitive. We just need to perform on the field to the same standard as training,” he said.
The Harmony Cup will also feature teams from the Cook Islands, Fiji, Great Britain along with Indigenous and Maori teams.
“Nines footy is going to be hard on everyone, especially in summer, so the other teams are going to be as gassed and fatigued as we are,” Petty Officer Swanson.
“We’re going to be able to put our best team forward and hopefully make the finals.
Despite his team being rated 14th heading into the competition, Petty Officer Swanson was confident they would be competitive.
“We’re going to be extremely competitive, hopefully we will get a few wins in this tournament.”
“If we stick to the basics, we’ll be bound to put on a pretty good show.”