It may be a region renowned for its rock hard Coalfields rugby league competition, but on Monday Cessnock started playing an important role for rugby union royalty.
The Wallabies kicked off their week-long training camp with a skill session at Cessnock Sportsground, with players full of praise for the facilities.
“The field is top notch and I’ll be excited to see what we can do out on it,” rookie Reds flanker Adam Korczyk said ahead of training.
His views were echoed by Wallabies vice-captain Will Genia, who praised the new relatively quiet training surrounds.
“I love it, it’s an amazing place,” halfback Genia said.
...You get to spend some more time with your teammates and bond and the place itself is quite beautiful...Wallabies vice-captain Will Genia on Cessnock
“To be out somewhere that’s a bit isolated, you get to spend some more time with your teammates and bond and the place itself is quite beautiful with the vineyards and everything.”
The camp will likely see an emphasis on skills and the breakdown, according to Korczyk, after some heavy fitness training last week.
Both players grinned through suggestions that the week would involve a visit to some of the Hunter Valley’s famous vineyards.
“There’s a few guys in the team who enjoy some wine so on their day off they might get out there and go and see that," Genia said.
“Maybe when we have a day off, maybe not,” laughed Korczyk.
“I’m not a big wine man.”
The Wallabies will train in Cessnock throughout the week as preparations ramp up for their Bledisloe Cup kick off against the All Blacks on August 19 in Sydney.
Locals have an opportunity to rub shoulders with an open training session and meet and greet held at the sportsground on Tuesday night.
The Wallabies have been in the Hunter since late July, spending a week in Newcastle before leaving the city for the quieter atmosphere of the lower Hunter.