By Stuart McLennan
Queanbeyan Kangaroos head coach Adam Taylor is more qualified than most to talk about the rugby league divide that exists in the city of Queanbeyan. After captain/coaching the Roos for a few seasons up until the end of 2009, he left to go across town to the Queanbeyan Blues much to the horror of team mates at the time.
“At the Queanbeyan Roos we had just got the club back to where it should be and I had to make some tough decisions. I was a bit on the nose here with a couple of people at the time,” Taylor said.
“I just thought a fresh start would be good and went across to the Blues. Not that I left on bad terms.
“That move backfired on me because the Blues won the comp the year that I left,” Taylor said with a chuckle.
The coach is of the view that while the Queanbeyan rivalry is still strong, the stories can become a little bit inflated.
“It is a bit like the old ‘Fibros vs Silvertails’ from years ago, where we (the Roos) are seen as the smaller club and the battlers I suppose. The only people that can change that are the ones in the jumpers,” Taylor said.
“Having played there (Blues), the perception of star-studded line ups on the huge bucks. It is not as bad as some people think.”
After a decade under Aaron Gorrell where they won three premierships, the Roos didn’t play last season due to the impacts of COVID-19 and Taylor is again in rebuild mode at Seears Workwear Oval.
“COVID probably did us a favour to be honest. In March last year we had about 15 to 16 players for both grades so I don’t know what we would have done.”
Former UC Stars Head Coach Matt Cox, who took the University side to the reserve grade Grand Final in the revamped 2020 CRRL Cup, has joined Taylor as an assistant.
“We were blessed when Coxy came over to us. He wears many hats within this club and it’s much appreciated. “
Fortunes have been mixed so far in 2021 for the Kangaroos, losing their first couple of games before recording two strong victories in the last two rounds.
“We are nowhere near where we should be but we’ll take the two wins because we have been hammered with injuries since the start of the season.”
Taylor nominated half Thomas Casey as a player to watch, having come across from the Raiders.
“He adds a bit of an X factor. He is a tough little fella. If you put his ticker inside some of the big blokes you’d have a problem,” Taylor said.
The undefeated Queanbeyan Blues team under Terry Campese will provide the toughest test yet for Taylor’s side, with hooker Josh Mitchell providing plenty of spark from dummy half while fullback Matthew Parsons is the competition’s top try scorer averaging two line crosses per game.
“Before that happens, (stopping the key players), they have probably the biggest pack in the competition. If you can nullify their forwards then those blokes don’t get to play that sort of footy,” Taylor said.
“I think everyone this year has laid down for the Blues. They look up and see a star studded side and the game is over before they take the field. We just need to stand up for ourselves and not be happy just being there.
“You can be all mates and chummy leading up to it but there’s a fair bit of ego and pride involved. We don’t want to be the little brother.”
Queanbeyan Blues vs Queanbeyan Kangaroos at 3pm Saturday 8 May at Seiffert Oval is the Blumers Lawyers Canberra Raiders Cup Match of the Round
Photo by Trisha Sullivan