Young RaboDirect Rebels scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker has spoken of the benefits of learning from Wallaby 9’s Sam Cordingley (now Rebels Recruiting Manager) and Nick Phipps since joining the Rebels.
Stirzaker joined the Rebels’ EPS squad in 2012, and featured off the bench four times in Super Rugby in what was a very impressive debut season from the former Australian schoolboy player.
“It’s great for my development to have Sam and Nick here,” enthused Stirzaker.
"Sam gives me a lot of advice and is having a really positive influence on my career so far. Even just watching Nick in training and games I am picking up a lot. It’s great to see him getting a good run for the Wallabies now too.”
After his first year in professional rugby, Stirzaker can’t wait for the second one to come along.
“It took me a while to get used to the demands of it, particularly the training, but the year was amazing and I loved it,” said Stirzaker.
“Coming into the EPS squad, the goal was to try and break into the 22 and get on the field, and I managed to do that so I was delighted. I had to bide my time, but I played more and more as the year went on and it will give me plenty to build on.
“I really enjoyed learning from some of the older blokes at the club too, and they have helped develop a really good culture around the club.”
As he starts planning towards 2013, Stirzaker admits he needs to continue to bulk up.
“The coaches want me to get stronger, and to get more physical on the field, so it’s going to be a big off season,” said Stirzaker.
“I just want to get more game time, keep improving and build on my first year.”
With pre-season just starting, Stirzaker has kept busy since the Super Rugby season finished, winning a Premiership for Sydney University alongside Rebels players Tim Davidson, Angus Roberts and Mitch Inman, and he expects a big improvement from former-Western Force centre Inman in 2013.
“He had a great year in 2012, and made the Wallabies squad,” said Stirzaker.
“His form in Sydney club rugby has been absolutely stellar, and I think that 2013 could see him continue on to make the next step.”
As for the Rebels?
“Hopefully we can start off with two wins at home,” said Stirzaker.
“We had a couple of really good wins, but also a couple of close losses to teams like the Bulls in 2012. We know we are capable of mixing it with these teams, so we just want to get back out there and get some more wins on the board.”
With his highlighter red hair, Stirzaker can’t be missed on the field, and based on the glimpses we saw from him in 2012 we will be seeing plenty of him as the Rebels embark on their third season in Super Rugby.
Pete Fairbairn is a freelance writer and a big RaboDirect Rebels fan. You can follow him on twitter @skippytbk