Western Force flanker Angus Cottrell will be hoping to go one better than his grandfather, Nev ‘Notchy’ Cottrell, when he takes on the British & Irish Lions in Perth in the tourists’ opening game on Aussie soil.
The 23-year-old back row man has become an important member of the Force’s back row team and will be trying to disrupt and destroy the reputation of 2009 stalwarts Tom Croft and Jamie Heaslip and 2013 newbie Sean O’Brien.
Twice before the Cottrells have tried, and failed, to carry off a major coup against the Lions. On those two occasions it was Nev Cottrell who captained Australia against the tourists in 1950.
Both games ended with the Lions victorious, 19-6 in the first Test in Brisbane and 24-3 a week later in Sydney. Will it be third time lucky for the Cottrell family in Perth tonight?
One man who rates the Brisbane-born Cottrell’s chances is Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, who saw at first hand what he was capable of when the Force became the only team to beat the Reds at Suncorp Stadium so far this season with a 19-12 victory on 16 March.
“The Force are a difficult and resilient side and they are in always in your face in the back row. The one thing that all Australian sides have is that mental confidence at the breakdown,” said McKenzie.
“The Force will get in hard on and over the ball – they are a pest. The detail around the back row battle will be key.”
Force talent spotter saw Cottrell playing for Wests in Brisbane club rugby last year and signed him as a project player to groom behind their all-Wallaby backrow of the time, which then included David Pocock.
The former Brisbane Boys School product had dreamed of following his grandfather and father, Nev junior, into the Queensland side, but made an immediate impact at the Force and has now made 15 Super Rugby appearances in two seasons to date.
Nev Senior was a skilful scrummager and determined tackler who went on to captain Australia. It was said he played like a runaway train and was one of the best hookers to represent his country and he was named in the Queensland team of the century in 1999. He won 14 caps between 1949-52 and is Australia’s oldest living captain.