The Tumut Bulls’ chances of finally getting back into the winner’s circle were given a considerable boost this week after local product and Shute Shield star, Devan Stoltz, was named in their first-grade team that will take on Wagga Ag College in round 13 of the Southern Inland Rugby Union competition at Beres Ellwood Oval on Saturday.
Stoltz is a South African born, Tumut Bullants product, having moved to the region when he was six.
He played all of his junior rugby in Tumut and surrounds, progressing through the SIRU pathways, to Brumbies Provincials. before finally attending Barker College.
Since then, the 25-year-old has carved out a good career in the Shute Shield, and now plays for Eastwood, even helping his side to a grand final appearance in 2020.
“I grew up in Tumut and played rugby here and went to school here before I got a scholarship to Barker College for year 10, 11 and 12,” Stoltz said.
“I went to Sydney University, but in my first year out of school, I wasn’t really associated with a club since I was coming from the country, so I did my first year of colts with Norths and played Waratahs under 20s.
“Then the General Manger of Randwick picked me up, and I spent my second year of colts and my first three years of first-grade with Randwick before spending the last two years with Eastwood.
“I have played in a couple of grand finals, but I’m yet to lift up a Shute Shield.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic putting a temporary halt to the Shute Shield competition, Stoltz returned to Tumut last week, playing against Griffith in their round 12 loss.
The talented centre was injured prior to his return with the Bulls, and now he is using this opportunity to get his body in the right shape before returning to action with Eastwood whenever the Covid-19 lockdown ends.
“I tore my calf in round three and hadn’t played since, and I was nearing a return and, on that Friday, everything got shutdown, and I mentioned to my coach, it could worthwhile to head home and play for the Bulls and work on some physicality and game time,” Stoltz said.
“Pretty much, the boys at home have been split into groups of 10, and they have been doing sessions that simulate playing, but for me, it’s been great being down here and awesome to be playing good, country rugby.
“I was saying to the coach (Ray Wells), it’s not as detailed, but it’s very physical and in terms of contact and tough rugby, it’s been a good challenge.”
The Bulls have lost five games on the trot, last winning against CSU Reddies in round six of the Southern Inland Rugby Union competition, and Stoltz hopes to help turn the club’s fortunes around.
“It’s a real pleasure to be playing with the Bulls,” Stoltz said.
“They all have great attitudes and are super keen to learn and hopefully this weekend we can get the win.”
It shapes as a big day for the Tumut Rugby Union Club on Saturday, with all three teams desperate for a victory.
Tumut’s second grade side takes on a struggling Ag College and both teams will be pushing for their fourth win of the season so they can keep in touch with the top four.
For the Bullettes, getting a team on the paddock will be the first point of call after forfeiting to Griffith last Saturday.
Aggies won their last meeting 24-5 and the Bullettes will want to bounce back against their rivals.