Toolan & Simona Take Reigns of Rising

Melbourne Rebels Performance Analyst Eoin Toolan has today been named as the Melbourne Rising NRC coach for 2018, with former Harlequin Rugby Club Coach Pom Simona joining him as assistant.

The appointment for Toolan follows a six-year apprenticeship with the Rebels where his role as Performance Analyst has been complimented by stints as a Rebels u/20 and NRC assistant coach.

“I think that’s going to be one of our advantages – there’s a bit of continuity.” said Toolan.

“Quite a few of our players involved in Super Rugby in 2018 will be available for NRC, so it’s about building those combinations as well as developing some of our younger guys.

“I think it’s (NRC) become a really strong competition over the last four years. If you look at that Wallabies 23 that played that last Test in June, twelve of them played NRC last year. It’s becoming a real stronghold of Australian rugby and it’s going to be great testing ourselves against some of the best teams in the country.”

The appointment of Toolan’s assistant Pom Simona highlights the strengthening link between the professional arm and grassroots rugby in Victoria.

“I guess the main advantage I have from having worked in the community and having played in NRC is knowing what type of players will be able to step up,” said Simona, who led Harlequins to the 2017 Dewar Shield.

“The NRC is a higher level, so we are looking for players who we think have the skills and work ethic required to perform at that level and beyond. It’s also rewarding to see players from the 20s and Dewar make the step up and give a good account of themselves and develop into full time rugby players.”

Melbourne Rebels GM of Rugby Nick Ryan hailed the appointment of Toolan and Simona, acknowledging their long-standing contribution to rugby in Victoria.

“The NRC is a vehicle to connect the professional and community game. By appointing Eoin and Pom, the club has recognised the continuity from the professional environment whilst acknowledging a great servant of the community game who has achieved strong results in the Victorian Rugby landscape,” said Ryan.

“We see the NRC program as a development vehicle to deliver on field success to the Rebels Super Rugby program, along with exposing elite Dewar Shield players to a consistently high standard of rugby which we hope will filter back down to their respective clubs upon their return.”

The NRC season kicks off on Saturday, 1 September when the Rising head to Fiji to take on the Drua.