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Smyth And Navan Banking On Fitness

Smyth And Navan Banking On Fitness

Navan captain Bernard Smyth feels his side’s finely tuned fitness could turn Saturday’s AIB Junior Cup final against Tullamore in their favour.

The Meath club’s work on the training pitch has really paid off with them contesting both the AIB Junior Cup and the Leinster Provincial Towns Cup finals over the next two weekends.

Australian lock Brad Harris is in his second season as Navan’s player-coach. A vital cog in the team, Harris’ solid fitness and organisational work is beginning to pay off according to his skipper.

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Smyth said: “Any Southern Hemisphere coach, they want to play an open game of rugby, as we want to do. We’ve got a big set of forwards, we’re extremely fit.

“We work on our fitness every week at training, we don’t just concentrate on mauling and rucking.

“Our fitness is a massive part of our game, running other teams around the pitch, and keeping to our pace of the game is really what we do and that’s definitely worked for us throughout the season.”

Navan had to call on all of their reserves to see off Crosshaven 6-0 in a thrilling AIB Junior Cup semi-final that went to extra-time last month.

“It was nil-all all the way to 80 minutes. I’m not sure if it was the first half or second half of extra-time that we got a penalty in front of the posts,” Smyth admitted.

“And then we got a drop goal to seal it. It was an extremely tough game, great defence from both teams. Every time somebody spread the ball wide there was a try-saving tackle from both teams.

“It was a fantastic game to play in, it was seriously tough but thankfully we came away with the win. In the end it was just perseverance and fitness that got us through.”

The talented number 7, who will line out alongside Thomas Clarke and Kiwi import Sylvanus Iro in the Navan back row this weekend, is very proud to be representing the Balreask Old-based club.

“We’ve got a huge youths structuce in the club, it’s probably one of the biggest in Leinster at this stage.

“We’ve got four main pitches, two training pitches, a massive clubhouse and huge facilities for everyone.”

Smyth also speaks highly of the facilities at another local club, Ashbourne RFC, and the clubs in that area of Leinster are certainly raising the bar for others around the province.

The Navan captain has played previously in an All-Ireland underage semi-final at Dubarry Park, the venue for Saturday’s cup decider.

With the Towns Cup final against Tullow to follow on Sunday week, Harris’ men will not have much time to celebrate if they do succeed in Athlone.

“Every weekend we play, we take it one step at a time. We train before the game during the week and we don’t look too far ahead,” Smyth added.

“We’re just focusing on Saturday and Tullamore at Dubarry Park. We’ll start to concentrate on the Towns Cup final after that.”