Dan Penca gets NRC chance as Canberra Vikings blood son of Wallabies great Tim Horan

by admin on November 20th, 2018

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Queanbeyan Whites captain Dan Penca gets rare chance to start for the Canberra Vikings this weekend. Photo: Matt BedfordDan Penca has waited three years for his National Rugby Championship opportunity and he’s vowed to make the most of his starting chance against an ACT Brumbies recruit.

Queanbeyan skipper Penca will square off against new Brumbies signing Chris Alcock when the Canberra Vikings play the Sydney Rays at Pittwater Park on Saturday.

Penca, a former Australian junior representative, has been forced to bide his time as overseas trips, selection and injuries delayed his opportunity to make a mark on the NRC.

But the 28-year-old is unfazed by the challenge as the Vikings fight to stay in finals contention in the penultimate round of the regular season.

Penca thought some of his teammates were playing a joke when he felt a sharp pain in his calf at Vikings training in August.

“I turned around to see what they’d done but there was nothing. I tore my calf and I’d never done that before,” Penca said.

He sat on the sidelines for a month as the Vikings battled through an up-and-down season that has left them precariously close to missing the play-offs.

Vikings coach Wayne Southwell has turned to Canberra’s best club rugby players for the crucial match against the Rays, making nine changes and drafting in untapped talent while Brumbies players were rotated out.

It means Penca will clash against Super Rugby journeyman Alcock, who will play for the Brumbies next year as David Pocock’s temporary replacement.

Penca, who played in the Australian under-19s with Pat McCabe and Dan Palmer, missed the inaugural NRC season after taking an opportunity to link with Southwell in Canada and only got 30 minutes of game time for the Vikings last year.

“It’s been a lot of training over the last couple of years so I’m really excited that I get to test myself at that next level,” Penca said.

“I’m just keen to play some footy. It’s always good to test yourself against someone [like Alcock]. It will be a good challenge for me and I can’t wait.

“The injury before round one put a bit of a hindrance on the NRC plans this year with only eight rounds in the season so I’m just grateful that I’ve managed to get back.”

The Vikings will blood Alex Horan, the son of Wallabies great Tim Horan, from the bench, while the back line is littered with club rugby players.

Wests flyer Eli Sinoti and Tuggeranong hardman Jake Rakic will join Royals scrumhalf Brent Hamlin in the starting side as Southwell turns to youth.

Penca gets his crack at openside flanker, while Ray Dobson will start at tight-head prop and brother Nick Dobson will get his opportunity from the bench.


Saturday: Sydney Rays v Canberra Vikings at Pittwater Park, 3pm.

Vikings team: 15. Robbie Coleman, 14. Eli Sinoti, 13. Jake Rakic, 12. Jordan Jackson-Hope, 11. Lausii Taliaulu, 10. Nick Jooste, 9. Brent Hamlin, 8. OJ Noa, 7. Dan Penca, 6. Jordan Smiler, 5. Tom Staniforth, 4. Blake Enever, 3. Ray Dobson, 2. Robbie Abel, 1. Faalelei Sione. Reserves: 16. Connal McInerney, 17.Sione Taula, 18. Nick Dobson, 19. Darcy Swain, 20. Dean Oakman-Hunt, 21. Joe Powell, 22. Alex Horan, 23. Andrew Robinson.

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