SHOALHAVEN Rugby Club has put out the welcome mat for John Sullivan, who has emerged from the smog in Sydney to bask in the crystal clear waters of the Shoalhaven coast. While there has been a long line of John Sullivans in the Shoalhaven, not the least of whom was the local kindly dentist and his same named son, this one hails from a long rugby tradition in Sydney’s northern areas and is more in the tiles on the floor profession than the files on the teeth.
Sullivan takes over from the hard as nails, tough as teak and the Rock-of-Gibraltar-type coach, Scott Jones, who has left our fair shores for work reasons.
Jones enjoyed success at the club in the last season as he took Shoals’ first grade side through a series of narrow losses in the first round of the competition to a series of stunning wins in the second round.
Included in these wins was the trouncing of the strong Camden side, that went on to take out the premiership, on that memorable and poignant Digger Day.
It is said that Sullivan is “an old fashioned” coach.
The club takes this to imply that he likes to ensure that the squad is fit and fired up but duly disciplined and agreeably aggressive.
Instituting December pre-season training has sent a searing message through the ranks.
His search for the right mountainous terrain for endurance development and testing has led him to the foothills of Cambewarra.
The King of the Mountain run beckons.
Sullivan has extensive experience in coaching senior grades in Sydney.
Most recently he coached Warringah second grade after earlier working through from the fourth and third grades.
Many rugby ancients will recall that granite like prop and Australian representative, Tony Miller, who spent his formative years at the Manly Club but along with Messrs.
Elly Bennett and Billy Simpson decided that “real” rugby was not being played there and opted to start a new club on the peninsula which became famed as the Warringah Rats.
After a few years in the second division the club moved up to first division in 1970 and has not looked back.
The Rats cognomen emerged into Sydney rugby vernacular after the first grade side held on for a famous victory over an old foe and they were likened to those Second World War icons, The Rats of Tobruk, by said Tony Miller.
Also one of the more famed sons of Warringah is former successful Australian coach, Rod Macqueen, who excelled both as a break away for that club but also gained high honours in surf boat rowing.
So Sullivan comes to Shoalies with an outstanding pedigree.
Shoalies welcome all new players to the club with spirit and determination rare in these times of professional sport.
Shoals has been fighting for premierships in the Illawarra competition for nigh on 45 years now, and despite its cupboard full of trophies, is always keen for more.