Muswellbrook Heelers start preparations to defend Newcastle-Hunter Rugby Union crown in 2019

DOUBLE HANDLING: Michael Hall will take on the role of president and senior coach for the 2019 season.
DOUBLE HANDLING: Michael Hall will take on the role of president and senior coach for the 2019 season.

THE Muswellbrook Heelers will begin the coming season with a new president and new renovations, but the same drive that led to their famed premiership last year.

First grade coach Michael Hall has moved into the top administration role, after being vice-president in 2018.

He admits that while he had intended on letting someone else take the reins of senior coach, he may be forced to double his workload unless a suitable candidate appears soon.

Whoever does end up in the role will still have a talented squad to work with, and Hall said there could be some new faces set to join following last season’s triumph in the Newcastle-Hunter Rugby Union competition.

“After the premiership win in 2018, there’s a bit of interest around town and a few players that haven’t been up here before,” he said.

“There’s a few extra people that I’m keen to see, because the rumour is they’re pretty good players so we’ll see how they meld into the team.”

The title-winning mentor also wanted to make it clear there was plenty of time to sign up with pre-season only beginning on Thursday, January 10, and anyone who wanted to try their hand should feel free to contact the club.

While there have been several developments over the off-season, such as the renovations at Highbrook Park, Hall said a lot of effort had been put into promoting interest for a women’s side.

“We had a good solid 8-to-10 women who were interested in playing but unfortunately they’re going to go off and play somewhere else,” he said.

“But, that (generating a women’s side) will be a large part of our strategic plan over the next two years or so and we’d like to build on player numbers and gauge some interest.”

In terms of the Heelers’ title defence, he is adamant it’s all about refinement of skills and creating a style that works best for the playing group they have.

This means they will keep shifting the goalposts, so to speak, to make it difficult for challengers such as Newcastle’s Waratahs to figure them out.

It’s sure to be another high-flying season for the Muswellbrook outfit, and with the new board set up, they can at least rest assured the president and coach won’t be fighting with each other.