“I’VE seen a lot of potential in this place. I haven't come here to run second.”
Those are the words of new Oberon Tigers Group 10 premier league coach and former NRL player Luke Branighan, who is aiming to continue the “winning culture” the club developed last year.
Branighan’s appointment as the Tigers player-coach is an exciting signing for the club.
The move brings in a halves option who boasts 16 games of NRL experience (at both St George-Illawarra Dragons and Cronulla Sharks), several years of action in English rugby league and a player who is very familiar with the sport in the Western region – having spent three years with Group 9 side Young Cherrypickers.
It also brings in a coach who is driven to try and continue the encouraging signs the club showed in 2016, where they began the season with seven straight wins but were knocked out in the elimination semi-final.
With training set to get back underway next week the Tigers won’t have to wait long to find out what his approach and practice methods for the upcoming season will be.
Branighan had received offers from “several” Group 10 clubs but said making the move to Oberon was an easy choice.
“I was very grateful for the opportunity to coach the Tigers. I’m impressed with their setup,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot to do with regional rugby league since I was a development officer and it was one of the most well-run clubs in the area. I’m looking forward to the challenge this year.”
After a season with the Queanbeyan Blues Branighan is back to the Central West with major winning ambitions.
“I’ve watched a bit of footage of the team over the last couple of months and I don’t feel like they’re too far away so I’m hopeful I can bring that little bit extra they were missing,” he said of the Tigers.
“A lot of that strength for last year comes off the back of the hard work from [outgoing coach] Zac Rowlandson. He’s the one who brought a winning culture to the club.
“They’ve got a good looking game across the park, in both attack and defence, but they need it to go to another level. I’ve got my own style of attack I want to bring in.
“Defence will be an attitude thing. They like to really get in and get physical. I think it’s great to come to a side who I feel aren’t too far away.”
Branighan will also be aiming to help the team with the ball in his hands.
“I’m confident on the field I can bring something to the club,” he said.
"We’ve got a few home games over our first couple of appearances and I feel like that’s a big positive for me as a new coach.
“I think a lot of people across the state followed the team last year after their couple of high-profile signings. There’s a lot of quality in this team but still a few areas I’d like to see a little more depth in.”
Branighan’s task begins in earnest this Tuesday when training get started, but on Sunday he’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the club at the team’s meet and greet session.
“I’ve met a few of the players and a few the officials already. I’m hoping to meet more people on Sunday,” Branighan said,