Top coach gets tough
By MITCHELL DALE
NEWLY-APPOINTED Australian Under-21s rugby union coach Chris Hickey made sure he outstayed his welcome as guest coach at The King's School's pre-season training camp at Pacific Bay yesterday.
Well, that's not 100 per cent true.
The Kings' coaching staff would have been delighted to have a man of Hickey's experience mentoring the players ahead of tonight's trial with leading New Zealand rugby college, Palmerston North Boys' School at Coffs Rugby Park.
But, as Hickey sent the players on shuttle runs up and down hills surrounding the Camp Wallaby field, you can bet a couple of the lads were wishing he had stayed in Sydney.
For every mistake made under the sweltering 11am sun, Hickey ? who made a whistle stop trip to Coffs Harbour to do a spot of guest coaching ? sent the offending players on a few quick sprints up the steep hill.
"I don't usually do a whole lot of that, but I just wanted to reinforce to them that there are consequences of mistakes," Hickey says.
"There are consequences of making a mistake in the match and at training, (the consequence) was to go up and down the hill."
It was not the first time Hickey, who coaches the strong Eastwood side in Sydney's Shute Shield and Tooheys New Cup competitions, has run the TKS players through their paces.
"This is the first time I have gone into camp with them, but I have worked with them in the past," he said.
"The Eastwood club and King's are only about four or five kilometres apart, so there is an association between the two."
He says the traditional giants of Sydney GPS football are coming along nicely ahead of the 2005 season.
"It is very early in their season, this is one of their first training runs," Hickey says.
"There is a fair bit of skill here, but they still have a lot of work to do over the next few months to refine a few things."
King's and Palmerston North have previously met in 11 pre-season trials, with the last match in 1973.
That match finished in a 7-6 win to TKS and Hickey has predicted another close encounter tonight.
"The Kiwis are always very good, but I would say that at this stage of both teams' seasons, it will be an even contest," he says.