Noone’s going to be sneaking a sunrise past the Roosters this year.
The Nambucca Heads league teams are getting in ahead of time to make sure they come out charging for the 2018 Group 2 Rugby League season.
“We’re getting fitness sorted earlier this year—we’ve been notorious late starters,” first division coach Matt Field said.
With three out of the four teams securing their place in the semifinals last season, the club is keen on going one further this year.
And the huge numbers at pre-season training, including an influx of eager new players from surrounding areas, are a good omen that they could do just that.
But it’s not only on the scoreboard that the Roosters are ready to make a difference.
Committee members, coaches and players are all on board to help fix the embattled club’s image.
“We’ve gone through a bit of a rough patch,” Mr Field said.
“But there’s been a massive change in the club and everyone’s picked up on that.
“We’re going to be tough on discipline and look to create a more family-oriented club.
“If you stuff up outside training, you could be stood down, depending on what it is.”
New president David Richardson is the first to admit the Roosters’ reputation has suffered since its prime in the 80s and 90s.
But the past is the past and 2018 is a new year—the year of the Nambucca Roosters.David Richardson
This year, they are starting the process of rebuilding community trust by asking themselves not what the community can do for them, but what they can do for the community.
From 2018 onwards, the Roosters will start memberships which will entitle entry into all home games and a supporters shirt.
And Nambucca Heads can look forward to having their Roosters lending a hand with community fundraisers.
“We want the footy club to show support to local charities, to show we’re a committed rugby club,” Mr Richardson said.
“And through that process we might win some local support back.”
The club has also been working hard to throw the debt monkey off its back.
Throughout 2017, the committee managed to repay most of the $40,000 it owed, and Mr Richardson said they are looking good to have the debt cleared before the start of the new season.
The club will also continue working on fostering a more inclusive culture, with all teams running drills together at training.
“We do everything together, there is no gender here,” U18s coach Craig Borthwick said.
“The girls are just as much a part of the Roosters, and we’re proud of it.”
Meet the coaches
Matt Field and Alex Hull will again be taking the first division lads under their wings.
“You don’t really know what your side’s going to be like until round six,” Mr Field said.
“But having these numbers this early on is really good.”
Last year, training attendance was an issue for the teams, but this year the starting numbers are great enough to swap people out if they fail to show up to training sessions.
“We’ll also be focusing on creating a good culture, having a good time and enjoying our footy,” Mr Field said.
“Success will come off the back of that.”
Meanwhile Caryl Jarrett, fresh from her League-taggers’ semifinals appearance, is stepping up to take on the Reserves boys this year.
It will be the first time in Group 2 history that a female is taking the plunge, but with 14 international test matches and two world cups under her belt, Ms Jarrett is more than up to the task.
“I’m doing this for the challenge, and to take my career in a different direction,” Ms Jarrett said.
“I think I can bring a different set of skills to the Reserves.”
She said her focus will be on engendering commitment to training and team cohesion, and she’s keen for the boys to realise that she won’t be going soft on them.
“If you want to play your best, you’ve got to show up to training and do the work,” Ms Jarrett said.
“They were too reluctant last season—they’ve got to believe in themselves.
“I’d like to see them take the comp out, and it would definitely be an achievement for myself, as a girl, if they did.”
Young Jacob Welsh is stepping into Ms Jarrett’s shoes as League-tag coach for the season.
“I always wanted to coach, and I thought that this would be a good opportunity to help the girls out and get some experience,” Mr Welsh said.
The focus for the girls this season will be on completing sets and increasing pace—both in playing the ball and getting to the kick faster.
“I think we’ll go alright this year,” Mr Welsh said.
“There’s a lot of girls here now at the start of the season so it’s a good start.
“It’s always pretty hard competing with the bigger teams, but I guess you’ve just got to show up and find a way to put them off their game.”
The under 18s will be working under the power of three, with Craig Borthwick, Jason Sheppherd and Malcolm Edwards sharing the role of coach.
“We’re all past players who want to give back to the club that gave us so much,” Mr Borthwick said.
“We’re going to build on last year’s results—we were real contenders last year.
“And we’re all working to make the Roosters the pride of Group 2 again.”
A heads up that the junior club is still on the hunt for coaches and volunteers. If you think you can help keep Nambucca Heads kids on the rugby field, email firstname.lastname@example.org