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Big names pitch in for Emus Shute Shield return

He’s talking to Palu on Monday, after the Japan-based No.8 was tapped on the shoulder by former NSW teammate Chris Siale about getting a few players involved to give the Emus a fighting chance.

Muggleton said the quality of the district’s juniors stocks meant the club was confident their Colts team would come together without too much fuss, but the impact of the Emus’ relegation two years ago had seen many grade players depart for other clubs.

We don’t want to go back in and be another team of easy-beats and we don’t want to be a nursery for the wealthy clubs.

Penrith Emus president Gary McColl

“We need two full grades of seniors plus another 15 on top of that, so 45 all up. It’s not going to be easy but I put something on Facebook [on Saturday] and I’ve had over 60 replies from people wanting to help out,” Muggleton said.

“I’ve known Cliffy for many years, coached him at [Top League side] Toyota Verblitz, and he’s a bloke who’s always said that he wants to help with rugby out west and he’s coming through on that.

“Chris [Siale] is another good bloke, he’s come back from France [Siale played in the Pro D2] to Penrith and he wants to help build us up again.

“It’s essential to have people like that to back us and spread the message in the community that it’s worthwhile getting involved. The more people get involved the better chance we have of making a go of this.”

John Muggleton (left), with Will Skelton, and Jeremy Paul at a National Rugby Championship event in 2016.

John Muggleton (left), with Will Skelton, and Jeremy Paul at a National Rugby Championship event in 2016.Credit:Quentin Jones

There is still great uncertainty over whether the competition’s July 18 start date will come to fruition. Community sport is still under significant restrictions in NSW, with no contact training allowed and training groups limited to 10 people.

Sydney Rugby Union (SRU) chairman Phillip Parsons said the restrictions meant local councils weren’t hiring out their fields, leaving the majority of clubs without adequate training grounds.

Parsons wanted to put a lid on the Emus’ excitement with a warning that more work had to be done on both sides before kick-off. But he confirmed that, instead of choosing between Newcastle and Penrith, the SRU had made the decision to change the draw and make room for both.

“We’re excited that Penrith are excited but there’s a lot more work to be done and a lot of movement from government authorities that needs to happen before we can say this is a done deal,” he said.

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There was no time to waste for Muggleton and Emus president Gary McColl, however. With an opportunity on the horizon to re-establish themselves after a painful exile, the Emus are determined to make a fist of their re-entry.

“We don’t want to go back in and be another team of easy-beats and we don’t want to be a nursey for the wealthy clubs, we want to be a powerhouse in our own right,” McColl said.

The Penrith u15s boys dominated last year’s state championships, beating Norths 41-14 in the final and their coach Ron Patea will coach the first grade Colts. McColl and Muggleton are hopeful this year means the club will be in a better position to retain all the region’s talent.

“All those kids in that team were local kids who want to play for this club and that’s one of the reaonss we want to develop the pathway so that all of them can come through and help build the club back up.”

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