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A New Player From Australia
- Simon Kerr

It's enough to make Coventry's chairman Keith Fairbrother tear his hair out. In his day no prop-forward would have welcomed the club's all-action style of running rugby.

But Simon Kerr, one of two Australians who joined the club from Sydney last week, expressed delight at what he saw when the club beat London Welsh by 63 points to 19.

When Fairbrother was a mainstay of the Coventry front row the ball rarely got beyond the scrum half George Cole who promptly returned it to touch for the pack to regain possession.

Indeed it was rare for a prop-forward to touch the ball and when it happened it was usually accompanied by an expression of such horrified surprise on the player's face that the spectators would burst into laughter.

But these days rugby union players are all round footballers with few specialists - exactly how the game has been played in Australia for several years.

Kerr and his compatriot Brent Dale, a 6ft 6in tall lock forward, did not know what to expect when they stepped off their aircraft at Heathrow ten days ago.

They know now - and they are mightily impressed. Said 28-years-old Kerr:

"We even like the weather. This rainy stuff is like an Australian winter and I don't mind the cold. I have only seen snow once and that was when I went skiing with the school back home. I was hoping to see a white Christmas while I am over here, but I am told that is a thing of the past.

"Funnily enough our Christmas cards back in Australia have snow scenes on them, yet we never see any of it in Sydney.

"I am over here for holiday purposes but I want to play some rugby as well. I have always wanted to play in the Northern Hemisphere and this is my first trip outside Australia.

"I think it will be a good experience in all sorts of ways. My girlfriend Shannon is over here and we intend to see as much of Europe as we can as well as playing as much rugby as I can."

The sturdy prop was named among the replacements when Coventry played London Welsh and he got on to the pitch in the second half.

"It was a great performance and I was very impressed with the standard. It is early to make a judgement but it looks to be about the same as the club standard back home.

"I like the fact that Derek Eves wants the players to run with the ball. I was talking to one of the supporters and it is clear that is what the spectators want to see. It was a bit strange for me because four days earlier I was on the aircraft flying from Australia and I had not really acclimatised.

"I hope to get more chances in games to come."

His fellow Aussie Dale is still recovering from a fractured collar bone, but should be in the action within a couple of weeks.

Kerr, however is the man with the rugby pedigree. He plays for Northern Suburbs in Sydney and has played for New South Wales in the fearsome Super 12 tournament.

"I want to play for Australia and I think this season in England will help me to achieve that," he says. "I think I shall add to my knowledge of front row play over here and that could help my international prospects."

It could also help Coventry's chances of winning promotion to the Premiership One of the Allied Dunbar League - something which has slipped away from them in the last two seasons.

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CWN / Sport / Rugby / Coventry Rugby Club / 16 Oct 98 / Simon Kerr

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