Packs across the Central West Rugby Union will notice a change in the Orange City Lions come scrum time in 2021.
The Orange City Academy, now in its second year, enjoyed its first session of the 2021 pre-season on Monday up at Pride Park.
The club's academy, made up of some of the Lions' best young players, took part in a number of scrum drills and breakdown drills with Sam Needs, a former Waratahs prop who has now turned to coaching.
Needs completed a lot of his coaching throughout the COVID-19 period via online platform SLOCOACH - a program that uses revolutionary, user-friendly tech to deliver tailored feedback from some of the most recognisable faces in sport, including Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and Australian Women's Rugby 7s captain Sharni Williams.
City's first grade props Sia Nemani and Keith Lawson both utilised the program during the Lions' run to this year's Blowes Clothing Cup grand final.
With Needs on deck in Orange on Monday night, though, both Nemani and Lawson were able to lend a hand to help guide the club's next generation of front-row talent through the drills.
And Needs liked what he saw.
"I think the talent is really good at City. There's a high level of skill there," he said.
There's lots of outdated information around safe- scrummaging and tackle technique.Sam Needs
"Aside from skill, what stood out for was the respectfulness of the players. They asked questions, and they were happy to learn.
"The skill we saw and types of players we worked with was super impressive."
The Warringah bookend said safety was a primary focus of his scrum drills with the Lions' cubs, and his work revolved around "anything I can do defensively".
"I think from a safety perspective, that has to be number one. There's lots of outdated information around safe- scrummaging and tackle technique. Safety's number one, particularly for developing players - these are habits they take into grade rugby," Needs said.
He added the difference between a good scrum and an okay one, was winning and losing.
"We saw that in the World Cup final last year - England earned 12 points on the back of penalties on the back of a dominant scrum," he said.
"Old forwards like me are happy to see scrum resets, but we're a small percentage of the population. Scrum quality improves the game."
He said sides around the Central West will see more intent Lions' scrums next season.
"When it comes to scrumtime, you can't be there going through the motions. You have to know what you're getting out of it and want to be dominant," he said.
"And with the breakdown, it's just urgency; don't wait there for something to come, be proactive and get it."
The Lions academy meets each Monday night.
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