Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
The Russian rugby league team looks pretty much as you'd expect - big and imposing.
But looks aren't everything as the Tasman Orcas will be hoping to prove when they meet at Trafalgar Park on Monday.
It's the first of four matches in Russia's month-long South Island tour, with further games to follow in Greymouth, Christchurch and Dunedin.
They trained at Nelson College yesterday, having arrived in Nelson on Tuesday, with former Kiwi test coach Bob Bailey the man charged with putting one of international league's newest playing nations through their paces.
Bailey's been involved with the Russians since last November and is considering an offer to relocate to Russia after accepting a position as the new national coach.
Besides the current tour, Bailey will also help prepare the Russian Bears for the annual Victory Cup tournament in Moscow, which also involves Ireland, the United States, France, England and a New Zealand Defence Forces team. The competition celebrates the defeat of the Germans in World War 2.
With 20 million people in Moscow alone, Bailey agreed there was a lot of untapped potential to draw on.
"If I can just help develop them to a certain extent then someone else can take over after that," said Bailey. "So I'm just looking to get them started with some hard training and a bit of discipline.
"They're big, strong guys. . . but the skills need to be developed. That's what I'm doing now."
Bailey has already had some success with his new charges, having coached Moscow Dynamo to the first ever win by a Russian club side in the English Challenge Cup. The Russians beat lowly-ranked Bowling before losing to Rochdale Hornets in their second match.
Article courtesy of the good guys at The Nelson Mail.