Canberra's John I Dent Cup coaches have backed Brad Harris' appointment as Canberra Vikings coach for the second season of the National Rugby Championship, declaring it should not add fuel to perceptions of favouritism towards Tuggeranong.
Harris is a natural successor to the position, given he has coached Tuggeranong to the past two ACT titles and was forwards coach for last year's inaugural NRC campaign.
Tuggeranong provides a share of funding in a three-way arrangement between the Vikings Group, the University of Canberra and the ACT Brumbies.
But rival coaches have thrown their support behind Harris.
"It's a good appointment," said Uni-Norths coach Joe Hedger. "His performance and track record over the last couple of years stands for itself."
Some admitted it wouldn't help the perception that the Canberra Vikings were an extension of Tuggeranong.
But Gungahlin Eagles coach Dan Atkins said Tuggeranong had built themselves into the benchmark of Canberra rugby. A former Canberra Kookaburras player, Atkins wanted the NRC Vikings to be made up of "genuine stars" of local rugby.
"It raises a few eyebrows and puts a bit of a bad taste in other clubs' mouths. Again we're going through this Tuggeranong Vikings thing where you've got colours and names and players and coaches," Atkins said. "Why are we calling it a Canberra side, why don't we call it Tuggeranong Vikings. I'm not trying to be nasty about it, it makes sense."
Easts don't have any players in the initial Canberra Vikings squad, but coach John Ross said Tuggeranong deserved credit and rivals needed to "pick up their game".
"That's the perception that [players] are better off to play at Tuggeranong. Obviously the [Vikings] coach is there, they've got great facilities, they've got a great program, there's a lot of good reasons to go there as a player anyway because they run a good show," Ross said. "They need to be commended for that and the other clubs need to pick up their game."
WHAT THE COACHES SAID
Adam Fahey - Queanbeyan Whites
If Queanbeyan players get an opportunity [in NRC] that can only be a positive and we've got a number of players that have been selected in that initial squad. They thoroughly deserve their chance.
Dan Atkins - Gungahlin Eagles
It raises a few eyebrows and puts a bit of a bad taste in other clubs' mouths. Again we're going through this Tuggeranong Vikings thing where you've got colours and names and players and coaches. Why are we calling it a Canberra side, why don't we call it Tuggeranong Vikings. I'm not trying to be nasty about it, it makes sense.
Craig Robberds- Wests
He'll be very good for the job. Five guys got interviewed and he got it from that. I don't know what more he can or can't do.
Wayne Southwell - Royals
The reality is that split gets deeper unfortunately. It's a fine line ... I think the powers that be need to be aware of the feeling out there. You're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't.
Joe Hedger - Uni-Norths
It's a good appointment. His performance and track record over the last couple of years stands for itself. I think his credentials are proven.
John Ross - Easts
[Tuggeranong] need to be commended ... other clubs need to pick up their game.
JOHN I DENT CUP ROUND SEVEN
Saturday: Easts v Gungahlin at Griffith; Tuggeranong v Wests at Viking Park; Royals v Queanbeyan at Phillip.