HE has already been crowned the Blowes Clothing Cup’s coach of the year, but Dean Oxley’s job for 2018 is by no means done and dusted.
For the Bathurst Bulldogs mentor it will not be mission accomplished until his first grade side qualifies for the grand final.
Having finished second in the minor premiership to Orange Emus, Bulldogs will get two chances to qualify for the decider, the first coming in this Saturday’s major semi-final.
“To be honest I’d be disappointed if this side doesn’t get the opportunity to play grand final football. I know there’s a lot of work to be done before then, but we’d really have to take good look at how we’re doing things if we didn’t get there because that has been our goal this year,” Oxley said.
“It has been the goal from the very first conversation when people asked me what I wanted to acheieve.
“People said I may not get there in the first year, but I said I have to get there in the first year because I will be giving it everything I’ve got to get them there.”
As Oxley indicated, since he took over the reins of first grade coach alongside Col Kemp he has worked to prepare his squad for finals rugby.
He has placed big expectations on his men, but he has rewarded form and hard work. It is why he thinks Bulldogs are capable of reaching the grand final.
“I’ve applied pressure to this Bulldogs side from week one. Some people at the club think I’ve been too hard at times, but the reason why I am hard on players from week one is that the players who can’t handle the pressure that I am applying won’t be able to handle the pressure in the finals,” he said.
“So I’m quite confident that the boys who have been able to handle my presentation are ready for semi-finals football.”
As for his coaching honour, Oxley said the way the squad has responded to his challenges played a big role.
“That [award] was nice, maybe a little bit premature, but I will take it,” he said.
“It’s wonderful being involved with a successful club that has these opportunities. It’s one thing to coach, it’s another thing to have the players.
“I’m a realist, the depth of the club has given me the opportunities to do what I wanted to do this year, without that quality of player the things I wanted to implement would not have been possible.
“It’s all credit to the playing base and the way that they have applied themselves.
“Bulldogs is buzzing at the moment, with the women winning last weekend and all grades in final contention, it’s really nice to be pushing for those big prizes.”