ST Pat’s will making just a single change to the lower grade coaching staff for the new Group 10 season as all three teams look to repeat successful 2017 finals runs.
Pat’s had already announced a change in their premier league mentor role, with Greg Behan set to take over, but the club have now confirmed veteran half Chris Osborne will be the first division player-coach for 2018.
The 2017 first division side, under the guidance of Rhys Frame, struggled with numbers throughout the season but snuck into the finals, where they saved some of their best football for when it mattered most.
The team made it through to the grand final – courtesy of a Osborne preliminary final field goal against Bathurst Panthers – but the blue and white’s title ambitions were brought to an end by Lithgow Workies.
St Pat’s president Dave Chapman is excited to see how the first division side fare in a new season of football.
“There always needs to be an element of quizzing the player group when it comes to coaches ... and we can say that all the board’s choices have everyone’s backing,” he said.
“Chris Osborne was instrumental in getting the club to the grand final last year. He will coach while already having a lot of respect from the playing group.
“Last year the team made the grand final with limited numbers but I believe that’s not going to be a problem for club in both premier league and first grade.”
Mick Armstrong will be back to coach the defending champion ladies league tag side while Mark ‘Chicka’ Booth is on board again to try and deliver his under 18s another grand final berth.
Pat’s became the first side to three league tag titles under the tutelage of Armstrong after their grand final success over minor premiers Orange Hawks.
Booth’s took his under 18s side to a 10-4 record before succumbing to a red hot Orange CYMS squad in the season’s finale.
Pre-season training for Pat’s begins this Tuesday.
Chapman said the countdown is on for the season’s start.
“We’re very confident with the group we’ve got going forward,” he said.
“The thing we’re turning our attention to now is our pre-season games. We only have the one coming up and that will be the Stubby Collits Memorial game against the Forbes Magpies, but we haven’t got a date set for the match yet.
“At this stage it’s looking like that match might be played in Forbes.
“It could be right up until the eve of the Group 10 season until we know whether of fields will be ready to play and practice on.”