Premiership coach Joe Gogarty (pictured) has been reappointed to lead the Deniliquin Drovers Rugby Union Club for the 2018 season.
The non-playing coach led the side to a 10-year drought-breaking premiership win this year in Southern Inland Rugby Union’s McMullen Cup competition.
It will be Gogarty’s third year in his second stint as coach of the club. He also coached from 1999-2001, leading the side to a premiership in 2001.
Despite the recent success, Gogarty says it could be a tough task for the season ahead.
‘‘I’m just going to have to see who turns up on the training track,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ll be missing a fair chunk of the side with retirements and players moving away from town.
‘‘I developed a side over a couple of years but now we’ll have to re-group and build the side up again.
‘‘It was nice that the club has faith in me to lead the side again.’’
Headlining the names of players who will be missing are 2017 best and fairest Hugh Sutton, centre Tyler Amor-Beale, front-rower Tom Clarke and 2017 premiership captain Nathan Transton, the latter retiring after 10 seasons at the club.
Gogarty said losing the quartet leaves big holes to fill in the side.
‘‘Hugh was crucial for us as our five-eighth,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s the hardest position to replace so we could be looking towards those experienced players left in the side to fill the void.
‘‘If we’d have kept the team from last year then we would’ve pushed to compete in the Division One competition.
‘‘But with the players missing we made the decision to stick to the McMullen Cup competition.
‘‘It’s not all doom and gloom though. We do still have a good core group of players.
‘‘We’ll still need more numbers on the track though if we want to be competitive.’’
The hope for the Drovers is to bring more junior players to the club.
Gogarty said he would like to enter a side in the Southern Inland Rugby Union junior competition.
‘‘We would like to generate a junior side next season. It would be beneficial for the club so we hope that we can attract plenty of kids to play rugby.
‘‘Our focus is keeping the club afloat, and the survival of the club would be helped by having junior sides.’’