"I'll step away for a few years. I'd like to think that if I am to return it won't be as an authoritarian coach but more as a coach who can tweak some things which the players have established as the standard themselves."
Those were the words Dean Oxley said when he stepped down from the Bathurst Bulldogs first grade coaching role, having guided the team to the 2019 Blowes Clothing Cup premiership.
Oxley believes that standard has been created, so after two seasons away from the top job he's back for more.
He will take control of the top grade squad for 2022 alongside Chris Plunkett, who in 2021 coached the second grade outfit.
The decision to take over next year was not a long time in the works for Oxley.
"It came out of nowhere. It wasn't something that I was considering up until a few weeks ago. I had a few conversations and we decided that it was the right time, with a young group of players, to come back and have a crack," he said.
"COVID made things difficult for people, so it's good timing to come back at a point where there's hopefully going to be less lockdowns in the future and we can get some consistency with our football. The last two years have been hard for the coaching staff who have been there.
"Chris Plunkett is a guy I've been involved with, in coaching, playing and teaching for a long time. I'm keen to help him develop his coaching style as well.
"There's a few different things that aligned which helped give me some enthusiasm to have another crack at it."
Matt McRobert took over from Oxley in 2020 and this year Mick Leseberg called the shots.
Bulldogs were never far off the pace in either of those seasons, and reached the semi-finals on both occasions, but were stopped short of the top prize.
To get back to the top spot Oxley is looking to bring back a similar goal-oriented philosophy to the one he used during the 2019 premiership run.
Bulldogs learned a lot from coming up just short of the premiership a year earlier under Oxley's tutelage, and they ticked off short term goals one by one in 2019 to build themselves into a well-drilled machine.
Even with some new faces in the team this time around Oxley sees a side with the ability to benefit from a similar approach.
"The team having clear goals for themselves is something I'd like to continue working on. That involves simplifying the game and creating consistent and achievable outcomes," he said.
"I see a lot of potential in these young players. There's a hell of a lot of talent at this club and I would like to offer some skill development and make the game a bit more achievable for them. We're up against some pretty talented competition, especially Cowra and Emus.
"We need to make sure that these young faces that have come to the club have got some value added, improve as footballers, and become the backbone of the club in years to come.
"I want them to have that positive growth experience early, and that was one of my main motivations for coming back."
Oxley has confirmed he will stay on as Central West Blue Bulls coach for 2022.
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