Newcastle rugby: Belgian adds world of experience to Hawks

27/08/2018 Posted by admin

STRONG DEBUT: Belgian international Tom Coupe hopes to take his game to a new level and help Hamilton to a fourth straight premiership. Picture: Simone De Peak HAMILTON coach David Clarke has no doubts that Belgian breakaway Tom Coupe would star at whatever sport he chose.
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The 27-year-old made an eye-catching debut for the Hawks in their 20-19 loss to Merewether on Saturday.

He is the second Belgian at the club, following lock Mathieu Verschelden, who was one of the Hawks’ best in the crushing 45-12 win over Wanderers in last year’s grand final.

“Tom is an excellent athlete,” said Clarke, who has taken over the reins from Scott Coleman and previously worked with Samoan Rugby in strength and conditioning.

“I think Tom would be amazing at basically any sport he took up. He is exceptionally fit, has great speed, good balance…he is a very good athlete. Not only that, his knowledge of the game is excellent.

“He has played a number of internationals for Belgium including tests against Georgia, who are now a tier-one nation. He has had a fair bit of international experience against good opposition and knows the game well.”

It was through Coupe’s friendship with Verschelden that he landed at Passmore Oval.

“I played with Mathieu in the national team and talked to him about coming to Australia,” Coupe said.

“I’m 27 now and have always dreamed of coming here. It is a beautiful country with lots to do.

“I wanted to play footy on another level. Mathieu told me Hamilton was a great club and that I would enjoy it here. He was right. I’m trying to learn how to surf and am just loving life.”

As well as play full internationals for Belgium, Coupe has travelled the world on the sevens circuit.

“I have played in 56 tournaments for Belgium and been to places likeVegas, Kenya, Hong Kong andDubai,” he said. “Thanks to footy, I have been every where.”

“It is an amateur sport in Belgium. Even for the national team, you don’t get paid. But I have had so many great experiences. I have seen the world through footy and it has brought me to Australia as well.”

Coupe, whoarrived in Newcastle in late January, said rugby in Belgium, while improving, is “very different”.

“It is a faster pacehere and all-round it is a better game,” he said.

“At home, we play in much muddier conditions and there is much more focus on the set piece.Internationally Belgium is getting better. This is the first year that we have won two games and now we are guaranteed to stay in the Six Nations B.”

For now, Coupe’s focus is on Hamilton and their bid for a fourth straight title.

“The first game was a bit frustrating,” he said. “It is a new team and everyone is getting into it. I’m sure we will improve.”

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