DORA Creek captain-coach Brad Clark has been pleasantly surprised that his first foray into coaching hasn’t sent his hair grey nor given him sleepless nights.
“It’s definitely not as stressful as I thought it would be,” the former Canterbury Bulldogs NSW Cup player said.
Winning certainly helps: Clark has steered the Swampies to a Newcastle Hunter Rugby League A Grade minor premiership that will be confirmed in two weeks.
Clark had seen the toll that coaching took on some NRL mentors.
And at the park footy level, he’d seen the complications that coaches face when their part-time players have to deal with work commitments, holidays, and social events that can clash with the team’s priorities.
So he was fully expecting coaching to toss up trouble.
Instead, he’s enjoyed a relatively drama-free ride.
“I think having a young bunch of guys in the team has helped, too,” Clark said.
His players have been eager to learn, willing to take instruction and, most importantly, to work.
When Clark linked with the Swampies, he wanted results, but he was mindful that bringing NRL standards and expectations to the club was unrealistic.
“I had to find a balance there,” he said, referring to his goals, and his expectations for his players.
But the squad made a good first impression. And it’s been more of the same ever since.
“At the pre-season our level of training was pretty high,” Clark said.
It showed the coach that there was a foundation there that the team could build on.
“I think the biggest turn-around in the club has been in the attitude of the players,” he said.
From struggling to field a team in B Grade at the back end of 2016, the Swampies are now riding high. And in A Grade, no less.
Picking up a handful of the best players from the Morisset Bulls (who didn’t field a team this season) had also helped, he said.
Clark said securing the minor premiership in the top grade was no small achievement.
“I think it’s something we’ve deserved,” he said. “But we’re only halfway there.”
When the Swampies were promoted from B Grade at the start of the season, it was a case of Dora Who?
“We were probably a little bit under the radar. Now everyone’s after us,” he said.
Dora Creek will host Cardiff in the penultimate match of the regular season this Saturday at Neville Thompson Oval at 3pm.