Andrew Neely, a lifetime member of Coleraine Rugby & Cricket Club, has been selected by his fellow players as captain of rugby and is absolutely delighted with the news that he will be leading the 1st XV onto the pitch.
Neely (pictured above left) is looking forward to working with the coaches and players to create a winning team that will challenge for league and cup success this year.
Speaking on Friday, Andrew said: “I am honoured and humbled that the players and coaches have put their faith in me and I will be putting everything I can into my role as captain. I have played for Coleraine most of my life and I can assure everyone I am fully committed to working and playing for the club.
“I want players to commit to the club as well, to training and playing and putting all their effort into making this a great season for themselves and for the club. So far we have had a great turnout at training but there are more players out there and I urge them all to join us, to turn out, to join the fun, to get fit, to practice skills and ultimately pull on the Coleraine shirt and play for the club with pride.
“We have a first class coaching team and back-up, we have great sponsors, we have a great club with a great history and traditions. Now we want to get results, a good run in the league and the cups, and it all starts with the boys joining in and working together.
“We have the players and we have support from across the club. We have the drive and the passion to win. We are looking forward to doing our talking on the pitch.”
Andrew, 32, started his rugby career in the mini section, then the Colts, before working his way through the senior teams from the 5ths to the 1sts. It has not been easy and Andrew has some words of encouragement.
He said: “I played all through the club since I was a young boy. I worked through all the teams, then captain of the 2nds, through to the cup final at Ravenhill – all on my road to the 1sts.
“I remember being selected for a few games for the 1sts and then being dropped again. It hurt but I kept working hard and training and my reward has been a place on the 1sts.
“Most players have to work their way up and contribute at other levels before they get to the top end of the club. I would encourage young players not to give up but keep working to achieve their maximum level in the club. I did it and I hope that others follow me.”
Andrew is one of a long line of Coleraine players in his family. His father George played across the club for many years, went on to referee, and last year was the club President.
Brothers Greg and Graeme both play for the club and sister Aimee is a rising star in women’s rugby. And the next generation is already coming along with Andrew’s three boys already getting involved in mini rugby.
Coach Richard Boyd is looking forward to building the team and working with Andrew. He said: “Andrew is a fantastic choice as captain. He is a genuine club man and he has the support of all the players. We will both be working hard to bring everybody together and get results on the field.
“We have started training and we have had great turnout so far, but, there is always room for more players and more talent across the club. I would encourage everyone to come down and join in.
“We train Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7.00pm sharp until 8.45pm. Old and new players are welcome and there is something for everyone. It is hard work but it is great fun. I look forward to seeing you there – just come down and join in.”
Credit: Ulster Rugby