In-form Dane plans to bring running game

THINKING ON HIS FEET: South African product Dane Sherratt will make his run-on debut for NSW Country against Queensland Country at Ernie Calland Field at Gateshead on Saturday evening.
Nanjing Night Net

DANE Sherrattis at his best when running the footy.

It is as much about his state of mind as anything else.

Sherratt grew up in Cape Townwhere rugby was all aboutstructure and field position. His trusty right boot, more thananything, earnedthe fly-half a spot in theCheetahs under-21side.

However, since moving to Australia three years ago, the 24-year-old has rekindled his running game, with great rewards.

“When I am confident, I run the ball,” he said.“That is when Ifeel my game is at its best.You won’t see me kick it.”

Sherrattwill make his starting debut for NSW Country against Queensland Country at Gateshead’s Ernie Calland Field on Saturday.

“It was awesome be a part of it when we played down in Canberra,” Sherratt said of his first appearance off the bench for the Cockatoos in a50-34 triumph over Brumbies Provincial a fortnight ago.“I am feeling confident and can’t wait to get out there.Last weekend for the Tahs, we didn’t get the win overHamilton but I scored a try. I ran the ball quite a bit andfelt good. I want to carry that into Saturday.”

Sherratt was named player of the carnival after leading Newcastle to the Caldwell Cup at the Country Championships in April.Newcastle played a“tournament” style of rugby in Port Macqaurie based on field position and pressure.

“[Newcastle coach] StuPinkerton was heavy on not playing in our own half,” Sherratt said.“At Country they encourage us tohave a go from pretty much anywhere on the field. The backline has been given that freedom. Obviously, we know when to exit as well.”

Sherratt conducts a Cockatoos backline that includes fellow Newcastle and Hunter players in halfback Jono O’Toole, fullback Jack Arthur (Nelson Bay) and winger Sireli Bainivalu (Hamilton). Maitland No.8 Travis Brooke and Singleton lock Nathan Brennan are among the tall timber in the pack.

“We are aiming to play a bit more expansive;run it rather than kick it,” Country coach Matt Thomas said.“We want to showcase the players’strengths. The eight-nine-10 is the Newcastle combination. When they have combined it has been pretty good to watch.”

The battle, whichkicks off at 5.50pm and has an under-19 clash between the same two teams as a curtain raiser, is Queensland’s third in a week.

They went down 57-27 to a Brisbane Premier Rugby President’s XV on Sunday and edged out touring side North Canterbury 22-18 on Wednesday night.

“They beat us on the bell last year and we are expecting a tightly contested game,” Thomas said.“We have a very different squad, where they have the nucleus of the same squad.Their strength is probably the forwards, which is fine by us.”

A win would complete a rare clean sweep for the Cockatoos, and follow triumphs over Sydney Subbies and the Brumbies.

“We have 15 new players this year which has rekindled the Country spirit,” Thomas said.“Toget a country jersey is often the pinnacle of these players’ careers.”