Whiskey Jacks schedule starting to pick up steam

Daily Herald File Photo Pelasio Vereakula of the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks used his speed to get around members of the Saskatoon Gophers last year.

After capturing their first senior men’s Division II provincial rugby title last fall in Regina, the Prince Albert Whiskey Jacks have been eager to get back out on the pitch.

However, they have only played one contest so far this season as they gear up for a road game next Thursday evening in Saskatoon against the Saskatoon Goats.

“Normally we have about three or four games in the books by the time the second week of July, but it’s a little bit different this year with the way the schedule works,” Whiskey Jacks forward Darcy Murphy said.

“Everyone’s hungry and eager to get out there and compete. We have the same solid core from last year and we have that same Whiskey Jacks mentality. We are going to play smart, play tough and play consistent. However, that can be hard to do at times when you are lacking games.”

Their long wait between contests has to due with some changes within the North Saskatchewan Rugby Union as they went down from five teams to three teams.

“Due to low numbers, the Krems and Badgers merged to form a team in Saskatoon and the Oats and Gophers did the same, which was done to maintain a high level of play,” Murphy said.

“We do have a couple of more teams though in Regina and that will lead to a pretty competitive provincial format.”

The Whiskey Jacks season opener took place on Wednesday, June 5 in Saskatoon as they lost a 33-25 affair to the host Kradgers.

“They were certainly a far more experienced teams than other ones we have played against in previous years to start the season, but I thought we did some fantastic things out there,” Murphy said.

“We were able to get some points on the board and our defence was incredible, especially when it came to how we made tackles. However, some of the rust came through at the end and they were able to beat us.”

Following next week’s game against the Goats, the Whiskey Jacks will travel down to Regina to face the Highlanders on Saturday, July 20.

They will then prepare for their home opener at Max Clunie Field on Thursday, Aug. 1 against the Goats, with the start time still be finalized.

“We’ve really been focusing a lot on our fitness and overall team play in practice as that’s something we are looking to use to our advantage in these next few games,” Murphy said.