Newcastle Rugby: Recharged Singleton skipper locks down NSW Country Cockatoos spot

Newcastle Rugby: Recharged Singleton skipper locks down NSW Country Cockatoos spot

HARD YARDS: Nathan Brennan will pack down in the second-row for NSW Country against Queensland Country at Ernie Calland Field on Saturday. Picture: Max Mason-HubersNATHAN Brennan considered taking a break from rugby this year.
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The lock had come off a difficult season with Singleton and was lacking motivation.Playing representative rugby was not in the frame.

It took a heart-to-heart talk withNSW Country coach Matt Thompson to light the fire in Brennan’s belly.

On Saturday, the 26-year-old will pack down in the second-row of a Cockatoos side out to complete an undefeated campaign against arch rivals Queensland Country at Ernie Calland Oval.

“At the start of the season I wasn’t overly keen to play,” Brennan said.

“I was thinking about having a year off and focusingon other things. I had a chat to Matt. Hecoached me a couple of years ago and is one of the best coaches I have had. He definitely knows how to get the best out of people.”

In his first season with the Cockatoos,Brennan has been key in wins over Sydney Subbies (40-7) and Brumbies Provincial (50-34).

“He was talking about giving rugby up,” Thomas said.

“I told himhe couldn’t do that and he needed to have another crack: get fit and get yourself into the Newcastle side.He did that and has been one of the strongest players we have in the Country side.He does all the tight stuff that no-one wants to do.”

Brennan is Singleton captain and although he takes pride in leading his home team, it has been a struggle at times.

“We put in the effort each week but don’t get much reward,” Brennan said. “It is a challenge but wehave such a great club culture at Singleton. That is the reason all the boys turn up each week.Playing with my brother and my best mates is most special to me. It means more than winning.”

Thomas said Brennan hadrelished having less responsibility at the Cockatoos.

“Sometimes in struggling teams, the better players try to do everything and itfails on them,” Thomas said. “At this level each individual has to do their job.”

Singleton take on Southern Beaches at the same venue before NSW Country meet Queensland in colts (4.10pm) andseniors (5.50pm).

“The Singleton boys will be there, which is good,” Brennan said.

“We are two-from-two and looking at being the first Cockatoos team which has been undefeated in a while. It is a good culture, everyone gets along well. It is like a big family.”

Brennan is one of six NHRU players in the Cockatoos. Travis Brooke (Maitland) packs down at No.8, Jono O’Toole (Maitland) is halfback, Dane Sherratt (Waratahs) has been promoted to start at fly-half, Jack Arthur (Nelson Bay) is fullback and Sireli Bainivalu (Hamilton) is on the wing.

Queensland Country have been in camp for a week and have played against Brisbane Premier Rugby President’s XV on Sunday and touring side South Canterbury on Wednesday night.