Pom Simona has today been unveiled as the Melbourne Rising coach for the 2019 NRC season.
Simona is a well-known identity within the Victorian rugby ranks, having made a name for himself as a former Rising player and coach within the local Dewar Shield club competition.
Having guided the Harlequins to Dewar Shield premierships in 2015 & 2017, Simona was elevated to Rising assistant coach during the team’s 2017 & 2018 campaigns.
“I’m honoured to be the 2019 Melbourne Rising coach,” revealed Simona.
“Having played for the Rising in 2014 & 2015, I feel as though my journey with the Club has now come full circle in a way.
“As a guy who played my senior rugby with the Harlequin club here in Melbourne, I saw first-hand the impact the Rising program had on aspiring local club rugby players.
“The presence of a pathway program to Super Rugby is a real carrot for local Victorian club players. I’m excited to be in a position now to nurture up-and-coming talent and play a role in helping some of these guys become professional players.”
A regular spectator on the sidelines of Dewar Shield matches, Simona has already been tracking the progression of several talented youngsters plying their trade in the local competition.
“The 2019 Dewar Shield season has already thrown up a few names that weren’t known to us last season,” confessed Simona.
“Putting those guys in an NRC environment where they’ll be surrounded by contracted Super Rugby players will take their game to another level and the benefits will flow on their clubs when they return as better players next season.
“I can’t wait to see the next few weeks of the Dewar Shield unfold. There’s still plenty of spots up for grabs in the 2019 Rising program, so seeing how these guys perform at the pointy end of the season will be really interesting.”
Simona will be ably supported and mentored by Melbourne Rebels coaches David Wessels and Kevin Foote, who will assume the roles of defence and attack coach respectively. The appointment of the experienced Super Rugby coaches reaffirms the consistent link between community pathways and Super Rugby, as the Club seeks to nurture the next generation of Super Rugby talent.
Melbourne Rebels Head of Academy Nic Henderson rounds out the backroom staff as scrum coach.