New Zealander expected to start for Rock against Black Spruce
Joseph Keane takes a break from The Rocks practice at the Swilers Rugby Complex Thursday. Keane, who holds dual New Zealand-Canadian citizenship, is set to make his first start for The Rock in its Rugby Canada Super League game against New Brunswick Satur
Joseph Keane had planned to take a month off and do nothing while enjoying a break from university back home in New Zealand.
Then he got a call from his dad and figured he might as well see Canada and play some rugby.
Keane, is the son of the Swilers new rugby development officer Greg Keane and, like his dad, enjoys dual New Zealand-Canadian citizenship. Young Keane spent a week in Vancouver before coming to St. Johns about a week ago, when he was quickly recruited for The Rock of the Rugby Canada Super League.
Keane, who plans to return home at the end of the month to finish his physical education degree at the University of Auckland, has practised three times with The Rock and while he was unsure of his status for Saturdays RCSL match against New Brunswick, Rock coach Pat Parfrey said the Kiwi will start at wing.
His first visit to Newfoundland has been a blast so far, according to Keane. Its been great. The guys are friendly and the rugbys good.
Hes also impressed with Parfrey and the provincial coach of the years approach to the game.
Hes a really good coach. Ive really enjoyed his training sessions. Theyre really sort of intense and straight to the point which is good, he said.
The six-foot, 190-pound 23-year-old can play a number of back positions, but doesnt have a preference as long as I get on the field.
The Rock coach said Keane is getting the quickest possible introduction to Newfoundland rugby because he wont be here long.
Hes a pretty confident rugby player, and now well see how good he is, Parfrey said.
Like most New Zealand high school rugby career, Keane thought of a pro career, but he explained, as I got older, I sort of realized there were so many good players and then I just played for fun after that.
Keane began playing rugby in the under-eight division, then under-12s and in high school. After that, it was some years with the under 21s and hes played the past two seasons for a premier amateur team in Auckland.
He can expect to play 25 games a year in New Zealand, where the pre-season begins in January. New Zealanders play rugby pretty much the year round, with the exception of October, November and December, their spring months
Keane would like to play the game into his 30s because of the social aspects of the sport and the friendships hes made.
He may return to St. Johns in the fall for some courses at Memorial University and also bring along his younger brother Angus, a halfback, who also probably wont have any trouble finding a game of rugby.
Tough games on the horizon
The Rocks toughest games on the road against Toronto Extreme (July 21) and Niagara Thunder (Aug. 4) are still ahead, but it will be interesting to see how the team performs as a unit without the benefit of full-roster practices in recent weeks. Several players have been away competing for Canada East in the NA4 league. Still, based on past history between the two sides, Black Spruce will be in tough this weekend.
Game time is 3 p.m. at Swilers Complex.
The Rock have left some points on the field this season with poor finishing inside 15 metres in certain games and that was not lost on Parfrey in practice Thursday night.
The red zones a try. Dont f--- around, The Rock coach shouted as one of his players spilled the ball near the end zone.
The Rock, which has beaten Quebec and Ottawa, plays Halifax Keltics in Nova Scotia July 23.