North Harbour Rays tap into a history cut short for National Rugby Championship

The North Harbour Rays will embark on this year's inaugural National Rugby Championship believing that history is on their side.

While the NRC is yet to even start - the new third tier competition gets under way on August 23 this year - the Rays believe that as winners of the first and only Australian Rugby Championship in 2007 after which it was disbanded, they already have a winning culture.

Hence, the Rays - an amalgamation of the Manly, Warringah, Northern Suburbs and Gordon Shute Shield clubs - will draw upon their ARC success for motivation, and will also ensure that their NRC playing strip includes some of what the ARC strip looked like.

The Rays management has not settled on what the jersey will look like. But Fairfax Media understands there are several sample designs under review and that a source says it will resemble a "Harlequins style" strip that includes the colours of each of the aligned clubs.

Rays chairman Gary Flowers, who introduced the ARC during his previous tenure as Australian Rugby Union chief executive before it was scrapped by his predecessor John O'Neill, could not elaborate but said the franchise is "reasonably close" to deciding on its strip.

The Rays are also close to naming a major partner and home ground, expected to be either Brookvale Oval or North Sydney Oval.

Flowers said the Rays' ARC past as the Central Coast Rays that included the same clubs and Central Coast Waves, would be sourced.

"We are going to build off the work we had previously done with the [Central Coast] Rays," Flowers said.

"There have been ideas of work around branding. There is history there because the Rays won the inaugural ARC.

"I am not saying it [the jersey] is going to be exactly the same, but there is a bit of brand - especially in terms of logos - that we will be building off and potentially utilising.

"We will be utilising our history too. Some of the guys are involved originally. We might even get some of the original [Rays] players back to talk to some of the [new] players about how they felt about the competition and the lessons they had learned from it."

Flowers said there was no rush for the Rays to be the first of the nine NRC sides to name a coaching team. To be headed by Manly coach Phil Blake, it includes as assistants Haig Sare (Warringah), Scott Fava (Northern Suburbs), and Geoff Townsend (Gordon).

The four Shute Shield head coaches have not only held two conferences together recently, but plan another early next week.

The story North Harbour Rays tap into a history cut short for National Rugby Championship first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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